In a career that has seen Jerry Hollendorfer saddle more than 32,000 starters and over 7,300 winners, new experiences within the sport of Thoroughbred racing are almost a thing of the past where the Hall of Fame trainer is concerned.
He has been there and done that with champion runners, Breeders' Cup victories, and all sorts of top-level achievements. One of the few things Hollendorfer hadn't done until the evening of Jan. 13, however, was get a good look at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots winner's circle.
New Orleans is the kind of town where one can witness things that just don't occur on a regular basis, and Saturday's $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (G3) produced such a moment. Instilled Regard—just the seventh starter Hollendorfer has ever sent to Fair Grounds—provided his conditioner his first win at the venue and signaled his presence on the Road to the Kentucky Derby when he drew clear for a 3 3/4-length win over favored Principe Guilherme.
Rare as it is to see a Hollendorfer runner in the Big Easy, there is reason to think Instilled Regard has another such trip in his future for the Feb. 17 Risen Star Stakes (G2). The son of Arch looked every bit the professional over the Fair Grounds surface as he settled in hand in third off the early pacesetters, made a strong three-wide bid around the far turn, and took command in mid-stretch on his way to earning his first graded win and 10 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).
"I talked it over with the owner (Larry Best) and we came up with the idea of bringing the horse to Fair Grounds," said Hollendorfer, who later saddled his eighth Fair Grounds starter, Seattle Serenade, to a seventh-place finish in the Louisiana Stakes. "It was mostly Larry's idea but as you can see, it worked out. We haven't been around here much, but this was a good race to run in and the timing was pretty good."
Getting away from fellow California-based classic hopefuls Bolt d'Oro, McKinzie, and Solomini isn't the worst idea. With his effort on Saturday, Instilled Regard has served to further flatter the perceived strength out West thus far.
After breaking his maiden third time out at Santa Anita Park Oct. 29, Instilled Regard was part of bump-filled finish in the Dec. 9 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity (G1) which saw him elevated to second via disqualification. He kept himself in the clear Saturday, sitting in an outside path while 29-1 shot Believe in Royalty took the 13-horse field through fractions of :23.48 and :47.52, before looming outside of Snapper Sinclair—who had wrested control from the pacesetter—and leaving that one behind under mild urging from jockey Javier Castellano.
"I really like the way he broke out of there and he was just a very mature horse during the race, before the race," Castellano said. "Basically, I was just able to enjoy the ride the way he did it. The way he handled everything was very professional."
Instilled Regard covered the one mile and 70 yards in 1:42.59 over a fast track with Snapper Sinclair, a stakes winner on turf, just getting edged out by stablemate Principe Guilherme for place money.
Bred by KatieRich Farms, Instilled Regard has had expectations on him for some time. He was purchased for $1,050,000 by Best from Tom McCrocklin's consignment to the 2017 Ocala Breeders' Sales March 2-year-olds in training sale. Out of the Forestry mare Enhancing, Instilled Regard improved his record to two wins from five starts, with earnings of $228,000.