Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and jockey Russell Baze have won a lot of races together, mostly in northern California. But Saturday they began the stakes program on Kentucky Derby day with a win in the $229,000 Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II).
Baze had Trickey Trevor, usually a notorious speedster, perfectly placed behind front-runners With Distinction and Battle Won and made his move through the turn for home in the one-turn seven-furlong race. When they straightened away, Baze powered the 7-year-old son of Demaloot Demashoot to the lead and won easily by three lengths.
Baze, second all-time among jockeys through Friday with 9,312 wins, earned his first victory under the Twin Spires in six career attempts.
After breaking quickly, Baze said Trickey Trevor was able to relax when Battle Won and With Distinction forced their way to the front.
"That was the key," he said. "He's got that big turn of foot, and I knew I was going to be able to use it, so I was feeling awful good when we turned for home. He's not a bad distance horse and he'll run six furlongs with just about any horse, but I think his best distance is either seven-eighths or a mile. This is my first win ever at Churchill, and it sure feels good."
Hollendorfer, though, said the change in Trickey Trevor's tactics wasn't planned.
"I wasn't real confident about that horse running with that style (off the pace)," Hollendorfer said. "I thought we might jump out of there and get a soft lead, but usually around here, that doesn't happen."
Trickey ran seventh in the Churchill Downs Handicap last year after leading into the stretch.
With Distinction, ridden by Victor Espinoza, held on for second, while Battle Won, the 5-2 favorite, faded to fifth. Picking up third was the closing Level Playingfield and John McKee, who finished a neck behind the runner-up.
Saintly Look, Battle Won, Dreamsandvisions, Thunder Mission, Bucharest, Wild Tale, and the previously undefeated Charging Indian completed the order.
Battle Won set the early pace of :22 2/5 and :45 1/5 while With Distinction pressed every step on the way on the outside. Trickey Trevor took command from With Distinction in upper stretch.
"I knew the fractions were too quick for him, but he wasn't about to be taken back," Espinoza said of With Distinction.
Trickey Trevor is a multiple stakes winner whose earnings improved to $586,566 with Saturday's winning share of $134,881. He has won 18 of 35 starts.
Owned by Dan Jelladian, George Todaro, and Hollendorfer, he had not been out since Feb. 20 but showed solid works leading up to the race. He ran sixth in his last start, the 1 1/8-mile All-American Handicap (gr. III) at Golden Gate Fields.
Tricky Trevor ran the distance in 1:21.68 over a fast track and paid $21, $9.40, and $7.20. With Distinction returned $9 and $7.20, and Level Playingfield paid $8.60.
Trickey Trevor was bred in Florida by Edward Weist Family 98.