Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and the fillies Open Mind, Safely Kept, and Sky Beauty have been elected to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame it was announced May 13.
Hollendorfer, Open Mind, Safely Kept, and Sky Beauty were elected in the contemporary category by a 183-member voting panel. The Hall of Fame’s Historic Review Committee will announce its selections in early June to complete the Class of 2011. The Class of 2011 will be inducted Aug. 12 at 10:30 a.m. at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Known for his unwavering work ethic, Hollendorfer has been the most successful trainer in Northern California since the mid-1980s. He won the training championship at every major Bay Area meeting from 1986-2008, recording 37 straight titles at Bay Meadows and 32 consecutive crowns at Golden Gate Fields. Hollendorfer has also enjoyed considerable success on the Southern California circuit and won a training title at Arlington Park in 2001.
“It’s something you can never expect in life to be put in the Hall of Fame, so I’m quite humbled and very grateful to have been placed there along with a lot of other great people,” Hollendorfer said in a teleconference following the annoucement. “And I’m honored to be on the phone with Mr. (Allen) Jerkens, who is already in the Hall of Fame."
Having spent most of his career as the proverbial big fish in a small pond, Hollendorfer never gave much thought to making a name for himself on the national stage or being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“I just tried to do what I could do every day to take care of my business and try to make a better stable,” he said. “That’s the way I’ve handled my business throughout my career. Now that I’ve branched out, it’s been a lot busier. I have to get on a plane more than I used to, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices to do different things and I’m willing to make those sacrifices. I’m just grateful and happy to have the opportunity to do these things. I’m going to continue to try to do the things I’ve been doing all these years and try to live up being put in the Hall of Fame with all the other great people.”
In 2010, Hollendorfer won five grade I races: the Kentucky Oaks, Alabama, and Las Virgenes with champion Blind Luck; the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile with Dakota Phone; and the Gamely with Tuscan Evening. Blind Luck, who won the La Troienne Stakes (gr. II) May 6 at Churchill Downs, was named champion 3-year-old filly of 2010. Hollendorfer ranked fourth in earnings in 2010 with $9,307,328 and third in wins with 286.
Hollendorfer has ranked in the top 10 in wins for 24 consecutive years (1987-2010) and has been in the top 10 in earnings 12 times in his career. Through May 12, Hollendorfer ranks third in all-time victories (5,939) behind Jack Van Berg and King Leatherbury, and eighth all-time in earnings ($121,341,923) among North American trainers. His major wins include scores in the Santa Anita Handicap, Delaware Handicap, Hollywood Futurity, and Haskell Invitational (all gr. I).
One of Hollendorfer’s great achievements was winning the Kentucky Oaks three times, with Lite Light in 1991, Pike Place Dancer in 1996, and Blind Luck.
“I love all those fillies and I feel almost exactly the same about all of them, although with the last one we won with Blind Luck it just seemed like there was much more media coverage and it was quite an overwhelming experience.”
Hollendorfer also paid tribute to his wife, Janet. “She’s been the glue that’s held the stable together for all these years,” he said. “She’s the catalyst that makes everything go and I give her a lot of the credit for everything we’ve accomplished.”
Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens said he admires Hollendorfer’s work ethics and feels he is deserving of the honor.
“I wish I had the vitality he has,” Jerkens said. “He ships all over the place and works so hard, and I was very happy to see him get in.”
Open Mind (chestnut filly, 1986, by Deputy Minister—Stage Lucky, by Stage Door Johnny), bred in New Jersey by Due Process Stables, won 12 of 19 career starts. Owned by Eugene Klein and trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, Open Mind was named champion 2-year-old filly of 1988 when she won four of six starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).
At 3, Open Mind won eight of 11 starts, including the New York Filly Triple Crown (the Acorn, Mother Goose, and Coaching Club American Oaks, all gr. I), as well as the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama. Her victory in the Alabama was her 10th consecutive win, seven of which were grade I races. She repeated as her division champion at 3 and concluded her career with nine graded wins among her 11 stakes victories and earnings of $1,844,372.
Safely Kept (bay filly, 1986, by Horatius—Safely Home, by Winning Hit), bred in Maryland by Mr. and Mrs. David Hayden, raced four years, won 24 of 31 starts and accumulated earnings of $2,194,206. Owned by Barry Weisbord and Richard Santulli’s Jayeff B. Stable and trained by Alan Goldberg, Safely Kept won four of her five starts as a 2-year-old in 1988 and then took eight of her nine races at age 3 to earn the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter. Among her wins during that campaign were the Test Stakes (gr. I), the Genuine Risk Handicap, and the Prioress Stakes (both gr. II).
At 4, Safely Kept won eight of 10 races with seven of those victories in stakes events. In one of the great stretch runs in Breeder’s Cup history, she defeated a star-studded field in the 1990 BC Sprint (gr. I) topping European champion Dayjur.
Safely Kept concluded her career with five wins in seven starts as a 5-year-old in 1991, including her third victory in the Genuine Risk Handicap, Maryland Million Distaff, and Garden State Stakes Handicap.
“Obviously, we’re honored and excited. We always thought she was one of the greatest sprinting fillies in the world and hoped one day she would get the honor we felt she deserved,” Santulli said. “She’s doing great. This is the first year she won’t be bred. She’s retired and living a nice life in Kentucky. We’ve kept all the fillies out of her and have done very well with her progeny. She’s been very good to us; she was something special.”
Safely Kept also brought her connections close together.
“Barry (Weisbord) and I became very close as did our families by going to 25 or so of her races,” Santulli said. “At that point I had a couple of horses with Alan Goldberg after watching how well he managed her and brought her to where she was, and he now trains all my horses. So, the relationship with Alan and Barry and our families has been something very special and she’s the one who brought us all together, which makes it even better.”
Weisbord added, “As everyone knows the Hall of Fame is tough for sprinters to break through and we thought she was deserving because of the amazing things she did. We started to think that maybe the day wouldn’t come, so we’re very honored and very thrilled.”
Sky Beauty (bay filly, 1990, by Blushing Groom—Maplejinsky, by Nijinsky II), bred in Kentucky by Sugar Maple Farm, won 15 of 21 starts and had purse earnings of $1,336,000 in her four-year career. Owned by Georgia Hoffman and trained by Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens, Sky Beauty posted a five-race win streak at age 3 in 1993, which included the New York Filly Triple Crown and the Alabama.
At 4, Sky Beauty posted another five-race win streak, including a 10-length romp in the Go for Wand. She also added grade I wins in the Hempstead and the Ruffian. Sky Beauty had a brief campaign at 5, adding her second victory in the Vagrancy. Nine of Sky Beauty’s 15 wins were in grade I races.
“She was very special,” Jerkens said of Sky Beauty. “She won the Triple Crown for fillies and the Alabama, and it was just too bad she couldn’t do it in the Breeders’ Cup. But she did everything else, and I believe she’s the last filly to carry 130 pounds and win. She was just great; some of them are just born to be great.
“I thought she should have gotten in before, but you can’t knock the fillies they put in. They all were so great, too. But I knew some day she would get in. I never really thought she wanted to go a mile and a quarter, but she did it twice, and that was a big thrill. In the Alabama, I was thinking about not running her because she wasn’t eating as well as I thought she should. But she came around right before the race and we were lucky enough to win it."
Edward L. Bowen is the chairman of the Hall of Fame nominating committee. The 16-member nominating committee considered 80 candidates for the contemporary category before selecting 10 finalists. The four candidates that received the most votes from the 183 voters in the United States and Canada were elected.