Halo Dolly earned the 10th stakes win of her career with a front-running score over 1-2 favorite Unusual Way in the $100,000 Dream of Summer Stakes (VIDEO) March 23 at Santa Anita Park.
With Corey Nakatani aboard in the one-mile main track event, the multiple graded stakes-winning mare crept closer to $1 million in earnings with her 18th lifetime triumph from 37 races. The 6-year-old California-bred daughter of Popular is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for a partnership that includes Dan Hoefflin, Robin O'Farrell, and Joseph Schneider. Rod and Lorraine Rodriguez bred Halo Dolly out of the Comic Strip mare Spanish Halo.
In winning gate to wire, 5-2 second choice Halo Dolly was timed in 1:35.73 on a fast track, following fractions of :23.48, :47.45, and 1:11.09 for the first six furlongs. Comfortably leading through most of the journey, Halo Dolly was confronted mid-stretch by Unusual Way, who drew within in a head after tracking in second all the way around. But the winner responded to urging from Nakatani to edge away to a 1 1/2-length triumph.
"She got a good jump out of the gate, and if it (getting the lead) was going to come easy, we weren't going to stop her from taking what was easy for her," Nakatani said.
Hollendorfer credited Nakatani for a heady ride.
"She came away so good, he just went on with it," the Hall of Fame conditioner said. "That's why we pick the riders like we do, so they can make good decisions."
Unusual Way, who bobbled at the start under Edwin Maldonado, weakened late but was 6 3/4 lengths clear of third-place Could Be Trouble.
"I didn't want to rush my filly after we stumbled, so we sat second," Maldonado said. "She ran good; we just got outrun today."
Curvy Cat, also trained by Hollendorfer, and Warren's Rosebud trailed in the field of five older fillies and mares.
Halo Dolly, who increased her earnings to $982,316 with the victory, was coming off a third-place finish in her seasonal debut in the Paseana Stakes at Santa Anita Jan. 12. The versatile mare, a multiple winner on synthetic and turf, has now prevailed in three of five starts on dirt.
The winner paid $7.60, $2.60, and $2.20, topping a $14.80 exacta with Unusual Way, who returned $2.10 and $2.10. Could Be Trouble, ridden by Corey Lanerie, paid $2.60.
Lanerie was at Santa Anita to accept the 64th annual Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.