YELLOW RIBBON HANDICAP | PURSE: $250,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 1 1/16 MILES (TURF)
Halo Dolly won for the sixth time in nine starts this year when she rallied from off the pace to motor home by 1 1/4 lengths in the $250,000 Yellow Ribbon Handicap over the Del Mar turf Sept. 3.
Her first graded stakes victory provided trainer Jerry Hollendorfer with consecutive wins in the 1 1/16-mile grass test for fillies and mares, known from 1945 to 2011 as the Palomar Handicap. He won last year's race with City to City.
City to City, this year's lukewarm 5-2 favorite, finished second to her stablemate after being bottled up in traffic and getting clear too late to threaten. East Coast invader Vivo Per Lei finished third. The final time was 1:40.52, less than a second off the stakes record of 1:39.67 established by Mea Domina for Ron McAnally in 2006.
All Halo Dolly does is win races, now 13 for 22 in her career. Joe Talamo guided the 4-year-old California-bred daughter of Popular to victory in the Yellow Ribbon for a partnership that includes Hollendorfer. This was the sixth added-money score for Halo Dolly.
"Joe, it seems like he rides Halo Dolly perfectly whether she's off the pace or up on the pace," Hollendorfer said. "I didn't give him too many instructions. I just told him to let her break and then decide where he wanted to sit and if he got her to relax then she'd probably run good for him.
"Right now I'd just have to say the key to the horse is that she's just a happy horse. Every day is a good day for her. She does her work willingly and rests willingly and everything is good for her right now."
Rob and Lorraine Rodriguez bred the winning dark bay or brown filly. She is out of the unraced Comic Strip mare Spanish Halo.
Halo Dolly, sent off at odds of 5-1, won for the third time in four starts on Del Mar's grass course. She was coming off a victory in the Solana Beach Handicap restricted to state-breds, a race she also won in 2011.
Broken Dreams, looking to duplicate her front-running win over Halo Dolly in the restricted Osunitas Stakes July 21, took the early lead over Cosset and Vivo Per Lei and showed the way while carving fractions of :23.63, :46.67, and 1:40.52.
Racing toward the rear of the field slightly off the rail for Talamo, Halo Dolly was angled three paths wide rounding the far turn and found clear sailing as she reached the top of the stretch. She overcame a faltering Broken Dreams just past the eighth pole and opened up a comfortable advantage in the final furlong to win under slight left-handed urging.
"This filly used to want to bust out of the gate and go, but now she's gotten smarter," said Talamo after winning his 11th stakes of the Del Mar meet. "She's gotten older and she'll settle and run. And that turn of foot she has makes her an especially good grass horse. She turns it on at the end.
"I was able to get over and in on that first turn and save some ground. That's the key to riding this turf course and most any turf course. You've got to save ground. I've been really lucky at this meet. I'm riding some really good horses. That's what it's all about."
City to City was rallying late for Mike Smith, subbing for injured Cory Nakatani, after being held up to mid-stretch.
"I sure wished I could have gotten out sooner," Smith said. "She came running."
Ciy to City won a three-way photo for second by a nose over Vivo Per Lei, ridden by Alonso Quinonez, and Go Forth North. The latter was a head back in fourth while trying for the third time to win the Palomar/Yellow Ribbon.She was third last year and second in 2010.
The winner's share of $150,000 extended Halo Dolly's career total to $623,396.
Sent off as the fourth choice, Halo Dolly carried 120 pounds and paid $13.60, $6.40, and $4.60. City to City, winner of the nine-furlong John C. Mabee Stakes over the course by a nose Aug. 12, returned $4.20 and $3.20 as the 122-pound high weight. The All-Hollendorfer exacta was worth $46.60. Vivo Per Lei, shipped west by Tom Proctor from Belmont Park, paid $9.60.
Go Forth North was followed by Camelia Rose, second choice Byrony, Cosset, and Broken Dreams.
The Yellow Ribbon was previously run as a grade I event for fillies and mares on turf during the annual fall meet hosted by the Oak Tree Racing Association at Santa Anita Park.