By BRIEN BOUYEA
At the time of his Hall of Fame induction, Jerry Hollendorfer ranked in the top 10 in all-time wins and purse earnings among North American trainers. Born in Akron, Ohio, Hollendorfer arrived in California in the late 1960s and began working as a groom at Bay Meadows. He later went to work for trainers Jerry Dutton and Jerry Fanning in various capacities before taking out his own training license in 1979.
Success didn’t come overnight for Hollendorfer. He failed to win more than 16 races in any of his first six years as a licensed conditioner. However, things began to change for Hollendorfer when he won 56 races in 1985. The next year that total increased to 117 and he eclipsed $1 million in purse earnings for the first time. That same year, 1986, also marked the first time Hollendorfer won the training titles at the Northern California tracks Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows.
Hollendorfer’s first stakes winner was Novel Sprite, a $16,000 claimer. Under Hollendorfer’s care, Novel Sprite went on to win more than $400,000 and was named Claimer of the Year in 1986. The talent in Hollendorfer’s stable continued to improve and he began to capture numerous marquee races. From 1986 through May of 2008, Hollendorfer won 37 consecutive training championships at Bay Meadows and 32 in a row at Golden Gate Fields.
Major races won by Hollendorfer horses include three runnings of the Kentucky Oaks with Lite Light in 1991, Pike Place Dancer in 1996, and Blind Luck in 2010. Hollendorfer has also won the Santa Anita Handicap, Haskell Invitational, Hollywood Futurity, Delaware Handicap, Alabama Stakes, Humana Distaff Handicap, and Ohio Derby, among others.
Hollendorfer won his 5,000th race in December 2007 at Hollywood Park. Through 2010, he ranked fourth in all-time wins with 5,863 and eighth all-time in purse earnings with $119,141,280. Hollendorfer has also been in the top 10 in wins for the past 24 years (1987 through 2010) and has ranked in the top 10 in earnings 12 times in his career.
Hollendorfer shows no signs of slowing down. In 2010, he won five Grade 1 races: the Kentucky Oaks, Alabama, and Las Virgenes with champion Blind Luck; the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile with Dakota Phone; and the Gamely with Tuscan Evening.