10/09/2008 11:00PM

Top trainer sends pair to the fair


Jerry Hollendorfer, Northern California's leading trainer for the past three decades, doesn't venture to the Big Fresno Fair very often, but he'll make his presence felt Sunday when he sends out the entry of Saratoga's Magic and Our Partner in the $50,000 Bull Dog.

The Hollendorfer duo will have seven challengers in the one-mile race.

Hollendorfer has developed Saratoga's Magic, into the top runner on the fair circuit, winning the Alamedan Handicap at Pleasanton and the Governor's Handicap at Sacramento. Both races were on dirt tracks. He also ran fourth in the Joseph T. Grace at Santa Rosa on the turf.

In his last start, he ran third on a synthetic surface behind Breeders' Cup-bound Delightful Kiss and Awesome Gem in the Grade 3 All American at Golden Gate Fields on Sept. 27.

Our Partner finished second in both of his fair circuit starts this summer, trailing the talented Pass the Heat in the Grace and losing by a head to his entrymate after setting the pace in the Governor's Handicap at 1 1/8 miles. He stalked before fading to sixth in the All American.

Saratoga's Magic, a 5-year-old Tactical Cat gelding, has been a steady performer throughout his career. But this year is his best by far, with three wins, including his first two stakes victories, and $149,970 in earnings. He has 9 wins, 9 seconds, and 7 thirds in 39 career starts while earning $331,015.

"You keep trying adjustments to make them run well," Hollendorfer said. "Sometimes, though, it's just maturity that makes the difference."

Although Saratoga's Magic won the Alamedan in wire-to-wire style, on Sunday he'll likely sit just off entrymate Our Partner as he did in Sacramento.

That versatility has always been important and has particularly paid off this year.

"He's kind of easy to train," said Hollendorfer, who will use Catalino Martinez instead of regular rider Roberto Gonzalez in the Bull Dog.

Our Partner and Saratoga's Magic have split four decisions this year, with Saratoga's Magic winning the last two.

They should be able to dictate the pace, although both Muscle 'n Mane and Summer Survivor come off pacesetting efforts against easier.

Jack Hes Tops, runner-up in the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Sprint earlier this year, has stalking speed but was no match for Our Partner on the front end of a one-mile race earlier this year.

Top Emblem, second through the first six furlongs before fading in last Sunday's Cal Cup Classic, should also get a good trip.