Synthetic specialist Summer Hit controlled the pace as the 4-5 favorite and drew off in the stretch for a one-sided victory in the $100,000 Berkeley Handicap (gr. III) Nov. 29 on the Tapeta racing surface at Golden Gate Fields (VIDEO).
The six-length victory marked a sweep of Golden Gate's main track graded events this season after the 4-year-old's win in the All American (gr. III) May 27. The California-bred gelding by Bertrando, trained by co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer (in partnership with John Carver), earned his fifth win in six tries on the Tapeta and his sixth overall in eight tries over synthetic racetracks.
Russell Baze broke a tie with Ralph Neves and Roberto M. Gonzalez for most Berkeley wins with his fifth aboard Summer Hit. His National Racing Hall of Fame counterpart Hollendorfer earned a record fourth triumph in the race.
Baze has five wins and two seconds in seven tries aboard Summer Hit.
Summer Hit led from the start by a little more than one length over Majestic City while carving an even tempo, with fractions of :24.40, :48.51, and 1:12.57. He kicked away coming off the far turn and opened up quickly by four lengths. While continuing to extend his advantage with little urging from Baze, Summer Hit came home in a time of 1:42.65 for the 1 1/16-mile journey.
"He got a clean break and made the lead and it was pretty much over," said Baze. "He loves this track and he ran his eyeballs out. That (time) is stepping along on this track."
Majestic City, who tracked the winner throughout with Teaks North to his inside, was headed in the stretch by Fire With Fire, but fought back to hold the runner-up spot by a neck under Jose Valdivia Jr. Fire With Fire, who could not sustain his rally for Juan Hernandez, was third, with Teaks North fourth. Stryker Phd was last in a field reduced to five by the scratch of Administer.
Summer Hit was making his first appearance since he set the pace and faded to seventh in the Awesome Again Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 28 on the dirt at Santa Anita Park. Bred by Kenneth and Janice Heidt out of the Tough Knight mare Mia F Eighteen, the dark bay won for the ninth time in 15 lifetime starts while boosting his bankroll to $417,505.
The winner carried top weight of 123 pounds and paid $3.60, $2.60, and $2.10. Southern California shippers Majestic City returned $3.40 and $2.40, and Fire With Fire paid $2.20. The exacta was worth $9.80.
Hollendorfer purchased Summer Hit immediately after the horse won its career debut—in a $12,500 maiden claiming event in 2012—by nine lengths.
In addition to his two wins on the Golden Gate main track, Summer Hit also nearly won the San Francisco Mile (gr. IIIT) on turf in April, finishing second by a neck to Tigah.