Wally Dollase was on top of the world in 1996 and '97, when he saddled eight Breeders' Cup starters. He won the Distaff with Jewel Princess in '96 and finished second in the Classic with Deputy Commander. In 1997 Career Collection finished second in the Juvenile Fillies. The following year, he had a big chance in the Distaff with Sharp Cat, but the filly tied up badly during Breeders' Cup week and nearly died. Now, he is back with Good Journey.
Dollase had become private trainer for Prince Ahmed's Salman's The Thoroughbred Corporation in 1998, giving up his longtime clients. When he was suddenly fired from that position, he was left with virtually nothing, having to start all over again from scratch.
Dollase disappeared from the national headlines as he slowly attempted to rebuild his once powerful stable. Now, after several years, he has returned to the Breeders' Cup with the top-class Good Journey, a 6-year-old son of Nureyev owned by the Niarchos' Family's Flaxman Holdings Ltd., Gary Margolis, and Michael Jarvis.
Good Journey, a 15.3-hands chestnut horse, comes into the Mile with excellent credentials, winning his last four starts, including a victory in the $1 million Atto Mile at Woodbine. He previously won the grade III Firecracker BC Handicap at Churchill Downs and the grade II Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park.
"It's great to be back to big-time racing," said Dollase, who currently has 24 horses in his barn at Hollywood Park. "I miss coming here with a big horse. I can remember Jewel Princess beating Serena's Song in the Distaff. She had trained great, and I was very confident in her. That was such a thrill.
"Then, in 1998, when we almost lost Sharp Cat, that was terrible. There was a loose horse on the track, and they had the siren on for a long time, and it really upset her, and she tied up on us. Doc (Alex) Harthill told us that if she went down we were going lose her, so we had eight people holding her up and pushing her, trying to get her to keep moving. She was such a great filly, and was always Prince Ahmed's favorite."
Dollase's early days at the Breeders' Cup resulted in frustrating defeats by Itsallgreektome, who finished second in the1990 Mile and '91 Turf. In the former, he was nipped right on the wire by European invader Royal Academy.
As for Good Journey, Dollase is confident the horse will run a big race. "He's doing great right now, and is such an intelligent, professional horse. And he's already proven he can handle any type of turf course."
Dollase is at Arlington with his daughter Aimee, who has served as his assistant for many years. Dollase's son and long-time assistant, is now a successful trainer on his own, having become the youngest trainer to win a Breeders' Cup race when he saddled Reraise to win the l998 Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Dollase who has picked out many of his top horses in Europe, either at sales or by private purchase, will be headed to the Tattersalls Sales in England immediately after the Breeders' Cup. His main client now is Horizon Stable, the syndicate that Dollase had formed years ago, with Jarvis and Marolis among the partners. Among his top horses for Horizon were Travers winner and Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up Deputy Commander and grade I winner Helmsman.
Dollase is also taking on several new owners, one of whom is Larry Flint, founder of Hustler magazine.