Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer won the prestigious Metropolitan Handicap (gr. IT) about an hour earlier with Sahara Sky, but the Hall of Fame conditioner wasn't finished. Back home, his favored Summer Hit outlasted a determined Hudson Landing to capture the $100,000 All American Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) May 27 at Golden Gate Fields.
Russell Baze completed Hollendorfer's Memorial Day cross-country double with former claimer Summer Hit, who scored in front-running style by three parts of a length over defending All American winner Hudson Landing. Last year's All American was contested Nov. 23, but Golden Gate moved the race forward on the calendar to make it part of the holiday schedule.
Summer Hit, second by a neck to Tigah in the San Francisco Mile Stakes (gr. IIIT) on turf one month earlier, registered his first graded stakes win in 1:44.09 for the 1 1/16 miles on th Tapeta main track. Claimed for $12,500 out of a maiden claiming win in January 2102, Hollendorfer owns the 4-year-old Bertrando gelding in partnership with John Carver.
Unlike Sahara Sky's win by a nostril at Belmont Park, Hollendorfer didn't have to sweat out Summer HIt's victory.
Facing seven rivals, 13-10 choice Summer Hit jumped to the front out of the gate and was in command by two lengths while carving even quarter mile splits of :24.46, :48,70, and 1:12.87. Hudson Landing, a stalking fourth into the far turn, advanced into third on the outside rounding the turn as Tres Boarachos gave way, then got by rival Control Seeker in the stretch.
"Those were reasonable fractions for this horse," said Baze. "He carries his speed all the way to the wire. It's hard to beat a horse when he can carry his speed that well. He's a great horse to ride. All you have to do is stay out of his way."
Summer Hit was still 1 1/2 lengths clear at the eighth pole but needed to respond to Baze's urging in deep stretch as Hudson Landing steadily continued to threaten under Juan Hernandez all the way to the wire. Administer, ridden by Alejandro Gomez, was third, 4 1/2 lengths farther back. Siberian Laughter, Control Seeker, Positive Response, Ashtar, and second choice Tres Borrachos completed the order.
"He never got into it," said jockey Joe Steiner of Tres Borrachos, who is based at Betfair Hollywood Park. "It felt like he didn't really like the track. He just didn't take to it. He didn't want to run."
Bred by Kenneth and Janice Heidt out of the Tough Knight mare Mia F Eighteen, Summer Hit won for the seventh time in 11 lifetime starts. Never worse than third, the dark bay gelding has banked $281,835. Summer Hit won the Silky Sullivan Stakes on the Golden Gate Fields turf last year.
Under equal weights of 122 pounds, Summer Hit paid $4.60, $2.80, and $2.60 while topping a $29.60 exacta. The always-tough 6-year-old Hudson Landing returned $7.60 and $4.60, while the show on Administer was $6.80.