On September 3, 2011 trainer Jerry Hollendorfer won his 6,000th race when he sent out Just Tappin It to win the sixth race at Golden Gate Fields. He is just the 4th trainer in history to accomplish the feat, after Dale Baird, Jack Van Berg, and King Leatherbury. He said, "It kind of took a while to get it, huh? I think I've got some good years left in me. I'd like to keep going if I can keep my health and keep winning races. If I could win 7,000, I'd be very happy about that." Jockey Russell Baze, who was aboard Just Tappin It, said, "I'm really happy I got to do it for him. Jerry's been awfully good to me."
The Early Years:
Hollendorfer was born June 18, 1946, in Akron, Ohio. He visited friends in San Francisco in the late 1960's and never left, initially working for Jerry Dutton and Jerry Fanning before taking out his trainer's license in 1979. In his first 6 years he won only 59 races. In 1985, he won 56, then more than doubled that in 1986 with 117. From there, he's maintained a steady 25 percent win clip for two decades, and won ever training title in the Bay Area from 1986-2008. He continues to dominate the northern fairs, with fellow Hall of Famer and perennial leader Russell Baze in the irons for about 1/4 of his starters.
His horses have earned more than $100 million. Most recently he is known for training champion filly Blind Luck, who gave him his 3rd Kentucky Oaks (after Lite Light and Pike Place Dancer), behind D. Wayne Lukas' 4 wins and Woody Stephens' 5. Other notables include Indian Gracey, Chocolate Candy, Tuxedo Junction, Event of the Year, USS Tinosa, Eye of the Tiger, Bwana Bill, Cause to Believe, Rendezvous, Somethinaboutlaura, Skipshot, Trickey Trevor, Adreamisborn, Ninebanks, Yougottawanna, Fleet Lady, City to City, and Variety Road. His first stakes winner was Novel Sprite, a $16,000 claimer who earned over $400,000.
Championships and awards:
Northern California’s all-time winningest trainer, Hollendorfer won every training title at major Bay Area meets from 1986 until 2008, when William Morey edged him at Golden Gate Fields. He has collected 33 straight training titles at Golden Gate and 37 consecutive at Bay Meadows. He was 2nd in wins in 1998 and 1999, and won a career-high 308 in 2004 finishing third nationwide. As well he has captured training titles at Arlington Park and Thistledown. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in August 2011, the only human inductee of that year's class. "Blind Luck was the final kick in the pants that got me in here."
Grade One winners:
Along with the stakes winners listed above, Hollendorfer trained the following horses to Grade 1 success: Blind Luck, Dakota Phone, Heatseeker, Hystericalady, King Glorious, Lite Light, Pike Place Dancer, and Tuscan Evening. He said, "A lot of it is being in the right place at the right time. People see you at sales, and I run a lot of horses so I've gotten some notice. If you win some big races, people always take notice of that." About Blind Luck he added, "She has stayed the same from the day we got her. She has run for a year and a half and she still bounces, she's still enthusiastic."
His wife Janet has been very closely associated with his stable as his assistant. She suffered a brain tumor in 2009, which was removed shortly before the Kentucky Derby. He said, "Unfortunately, it takes a lifetime to build a stable. If I wasn't doing that, I wouldn't be happy. The love of it comes from the gratitude that I have the opportunities to do these things. Everybody wants to win the big races and probably the bigger the race, the more you want to win. I don't have anything to prove to myself. I've proved I can get the job done if I get the opportunity."