Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and jockey Rafael Bejarano capped a big opening weekend at Betfair Hollywood Park., combining Sunday to win the $100,500 Wilshire Handicap with Halo Dolly.
Both Hollendorfer and Bejarano won four stakes races in a span of 24 hours, collaborating for three of the victories. Prior to Halo Dolly’s 1 ½ length win over 14-1 outsider Long Face, the pair had teamed with Doinghardtimeagain in the Melair and Kate’s Event in the Tiznow during Saturday’s California Gold Rush program.
Never far off the pace set by longshot Little Emily while racing in the clear, Halo Dolly, the 3-1 second choice in the field of seven, gained the advantage with about three-sixteenths of a mile to run in the Grade III and wasn’t seriously menaced the rest of the way.
A 5-year-old California bred daughter of Popular and the Comic Strip mare Spanish Halo, Halo Dolly won for the 15th time in 29 starts. Owned by a large partnership that includes Hollendorfer, Daniel and Yolanda Hoefflin, Michael O’Farrell, Charie Robin, George Todaro, Joseph Schneider and Brett Tahajian, the dark bay pushed her earnings to $752,786.
The win was the second in as many starts over the Betfair Hollywood Park turf course for Halo Dolly. Her earlier success came against fellow state breds in the 2012 Fran’s Valentine Stakes.
Completing the mile in 1:34.18, Halo Dolly paid $8, $4.60 and $3.20
Shortening up an eighth of a mile after finishing fourth in the Santa Ana Stakes last month at Santa Anita, Long Face rallied to defeat 3-2 favorite Moone’s My Name, who didn’t break well, by a half-length. She returned $11.80 and $5 while the show price on Moone’s My Name was $2.40.
Completing the order of finish were the Hollendorfer-trained Esentepe, Purim’s Dancer, who pressed the issue while saving ground in her first try beyond 6 ½ furlongs, Nobilis and Little Emily. Byrony was scratched.
“I had a good position from the beginning,’’ said Bejarano, who had three other wins Sunday, lifting his meet-leading total to 11 through the first four days of the 49-day season.
“All I had to do is follow the speed. This was my first time riding her and I was comfortable the whole race. When I came to the stretch I just let her go. I didn’t really have to ask her too much, just a couple of taps on the shoulder.’’
Bejarano’s second four win day of the meet – he also quadrupled April 26 – left him seven victories shy of 3,000 in a career that began in his native Peru in 2001. His other wins Sunday were with Format V. in the first race, Iron Joe T in the fifth and Warren’s Wesley in the ninth.
Dan Ward, the longtime assistant to Hollendorfer, indicated Halo Dolly could surface next in the $250,000 Gamely Stakes Monday, May 27. The 1 1/8 mile turf race is the first Grade I of the Spring/Summer meet.
“The main thing today was a firm turf,’’ said Ward. “The only times she’s run poorly is when the turf has been soft. She’s run terrific here twice.’’