Updated on 09/15/2011 2:31PM

Sorting out comebackers


ALBANY, Calif. - For handicappers who enjoy solving puzzles, Thursday's feature at Golden Gate could be the ultimate 1,000-piece jigsaw.

A field of seven 3-year-old fillies will compete in the $40,000 optional claiming race. Five of the seven are coming off layoffs of six weeks or more.

Leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer sends out an uncoupled entry of Bullish Miss, who spent the summer with him in Chicago, and Our R.N., unraced since Feb. 1.

Rich Domino, trained by Armando Lage, has won three of her past four starts and has been freshened since a win in a $20,000 claimer at Bay Meadows on Sept. 28.

Full Moon Lady, trained by Art Sherman, has not raced since Oct. 17 at Bay Meadows.

Boone's Gate will make her California debut for trainer Tim McCanna. She made all seven of her starts at Emerald Downs in Washington and has not run since Sept. 8.

The field is rounded out by Clever Toss, who won for a $25,000 tag for trainer Chuck Jenda on Nov. 7, the opening day of the current meeting, and Deb's Royal Flush. Deb's Royal Flush, trained by Lloyd Mason, was second in a $12,500 starter allowance here on Nov. 8, but won a $40,000 optional claimer at Bay Meadows three starts back on Sept. 13.

Current form versus the condition of the comebackers is the puzzle confronting handicappers.

Hollendorfer's fillies figure to attract a lot of attention. Although Bullish Miss is entered for a $40,000 tag and Our R.N. is not, Bullish Miss may be the one to beat. Leading rider Russell Baze, who has been aboard Our R.N. in each of her four starts, has opted to ride Bullish Miss.

Although Hollendorfer is not known for working his horses fast, he is good at having them primed for their first start. Bullish Miss shows two bullets among her four listed works, and Our R.N. has one.

Hollendorfer's winning percentage for horses coming off layoffs of six months or more such as Our R.N. is 28 percent. His winning percentage for horses such as Bullish Miss who are coming back after layoffs of two to six months is 18 percent.

The other trainers have also had some success with their comebackers.

McCanna, who has been hot so far this meet with 32 percent winners, scores 15 percent of the time with comebackers. Lage is not quite as successful, winning 13 percent of the time with comebackers.

Sherman has had the most success. His runners win at a 24 percent clip and show a $2.42 rate of return when coming back from 31- to 60-day layoffs as is Full Moon Lady. She has recorded bullet drills in her last two works as well.

The pieces are all there for handicappers. Now they just have to make them fit to complete the puzzle.

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