Halo Dolly returned to winning form when teamed with Rafael Bejarano for the first time April 28, scoring a 1 1/2-length victory in the $100,000 Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) on firm turf at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Trained and co-owned by Jerry Hollendorfer, California-bred Halo Dolly produced her 15th lifetime win in 29 starts and snapped a four-race losing streak in the one-mile test for fillies and mares. The Hall of Fame conditioner and Bejarano continued their remarkable run together after a Santa Anita Park winter/spring meet in which they teamed to win with 23 of 38 starters. It was the fourth win for both jockey and trainer in the past two days.
Halo Dolly, starting from the far outside post at odds of 3-1 in the field of seven, took control in the homestretch and came home in a good time of 1:34.18. Long Face, a 14-1 outsider, finished second. The 3-2 favorite Moone's My Name ran on late to nose out another Hollendorfer entrant, Esentepe, for third.
British-bred Moone's My Name, an encouraging second in her United States debut for trainer John Sadler, had a poor start under Joe Talamo and trailed for much of the journey.
Five-year-old Halo Dolly is owned by the partnership of Daniel and Yolanda Hoefflin, Hollendorfer, Michael O'Farrell, Charie Robin, George Todaro, and Joseph Schneider, et al. Bred by Rod and Lorraine Rodriguez, the dark bay or brown mare is by the little known sire Popular (by Saint Ballado) out of the unraced Comic Strip mare Spanish Halo. Popular is a grade III winner standing at the Rodriguez' Cottonwood Creek Ranch.
Halo Dolly is now 2-for-2 over the Hollywood turf; she also won the Fran's Valentine Stakes for state-breds over the course last May.
"The main thing today was a firm turf," said Dan Ward, Hollendorfer's assistant. "The only times she's run poorly is when the turf has been soft. She's run terrific here twice. (Bejarano) always gives them a good trip."
Halo Dolly's biggest win to date came in the Yellow Ribbon Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Del Mar turf Sept. 3. It was the highlight of a 2012 campaign in which she won seven of 12 starts and earned $428,226.
The 2013 season hadn't gone as well, beginning with a sixth-place effort in the restricted Valentine Dancer Stakes Jan. 26 at Santa Anita. Halo Dolly shipped north to Golden Gate Fields for her next two starts. She finished a good second versus males in an allowance on the Tapeta main track as the favorite March 17, and was a disappointing third over yielding ground at 11-10 odds in the Golden Poppy Stakes April 7.
But Halo Dolly always looked like a winner in the Wilshire, stalking 25-1 pacesetter Little Emily and Purim's Dancer while on the far outside through honest quarter mile fractions of :23.72, :47.17, and 1:10.75. She ranged up on the leader to get the advantage coming out of the far turn and kicked clear in the lane to lead by 1 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole. Halo Dolly held sway under steady handling by Bejarano.
"I had a good position from the beginning," Bejarano said. "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."
Long Face proved best of the rest under Julien Leparoux for trainer Patrick Biancone, finishing half a length in front of Moone's My Name, who did well to get third.
"She walked out of the gate and she just got so far back," Talamo said of the favorite. "She tried to flip right before the start. She was never really standing well. Then at the quarter pole she got hit pretty good (by eventual sixth place finisher Nobilis)."
Esentepe was followed by Purim's Dancer, Nobilis, and Little Emily in the Wilshire, which was the first graded stakes of the 2013 spring/summer stand at Hollywood.
Halo Dolly extended her earnings to $752,786 with her first victory since the Oct. 20 Miss America Stakes at Golden Gate.
Ward said the $250,000 Gamely Stakes (gr. IT) May 27 would be a likely spot to see Halo Dolly next.
"We'll see," he added. "That would be logical because she's already a grade II winner.''
Carrying top weight of 120 pounds, Halo Dolly paid $8, $4.60, $3.20. Long Face, a daughter of Whywhywhy and who was fourth in the Santa Ana Stakes (gr. IIT) last time out, returned $11.80 and $5. The exacta was worth $75.60. Moone's My Name, a minor handicap winner in England before transferring to the U.S. for the Batchelor Family Trust and Judi Partridge, paid $2.40 to show.
Sadler scratched Byrony.