Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is hoping his champion filly Blind Luck can give him the perfect 65th birthday present June 18 -- a victory in Hollywood Park's $250,000 Vanity Handicap (gr. I).
Hollendorfer, who will be inducted into Racing’s Hall of Fame in August, has won three grade I stakes trophies at Hollywood Park -- the Gamely, Hollywood Futurity and Hollywood Starlet -- and indicated his mantel has room for a fourth.
“She’s been doing great since she came back from Kentucky,” said Hollendorfer of Blind Luck, a five-time grade I winner. The 4-year-old filly captured the La Troienne Stakes (gr. II) in her most recent start May 6 at Churchill Downs.
“I think a mile and an eighth is a good distance for her,” said Hollendorfer. Garrett Gomez has the return call in the Cushion Track event, which figures to attract a small but quality field.
Blind Luck seeks to become the third female to complete the Starlet-Vanity double, joining Hollywood Story and Splendid Blended. The Kentucky-bred chestnut has won 10 of 19 starts and earned $2,679,520 for Hollendorfer, who owns a share of the daughter of Pollard's Vision with Dr. Mark Dedomenico, John Carver, and Peter Abruzzo.
This is the first Vanity in four years that will not be won by Zenyatta. The race is expected to attract Switch (Joel Rosario), St Trinians (Rafael Bejarano), Miss Match (Joe Talamo), American Story and She's Cheeky.
Trainer John Sadler is hopeful that Switch, who upset Blind Luck in the Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) last June, can repeat that performance.
“It’s a good tough race,” said Sadler. “Switch, Blind Luck and St Trinians are really top horses. It’s not a real big field, but a classy field.”
Switch, who worked seven furlongs in 1:24 4/5 June 11, has won five of 14 starts and earned $942,600.
St Trinians and Switch gave Horse of the Year Zenyatta two of her toughest races.
Switch was overtaken in the final strides of Oak Tree's Lady’s Secret Stakes (gr. IT) last October at Hollywood to finish one-half length behind Zenyatta. St Trinians, trained by Mike Mitchell, was similarly beaten by a half-length in the Vanity last year.
Lee Searing, owner of Switch, said he plans to give away 4,000 free T-shirts to fans in honor of his star filly for the Vanity.
“I just thought it would be fun,” said Searing, who will distribute the T-shirts on a first-come, first-served basis in conjunction with Hollywood Park.
“The T-shirts will have a ‘Go Switch’ logo on the chest,” said Searing. “I have owned horses a long time, and Switch is a special horse.
“Our silks are mostly purple, a lot like the Lakers uniforms,” continued Searing. “My family thought it would look great if we had a lot of color and a lot of people rooting for our horse.”
Searing hoped the T-shirts would contribute to the sporting atmosphere at the track. “It’s a big day, a fun day, a fun race,” he said. “Come to Hollywood Park, get your free T-shirt and root for Switch.”
Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale seeks a record-equaling fifth Vanity victory with Miss Match. The upset winner of the Santa Margarita Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita worked four furlongs on the main track in :49 1/5 June 12.