While football Hall of Famers took center stage Saturday in Canton, Ohio, the Northern California members of horse racing's Hall of Fame put their skills on display at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.
A few hours after the 2013 football HOF class was enshrined, jockey Russell Baze and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer teamed up to win the $57,600 Robert Dupret Derby at the fair with Outside Nashville.
As far as wins go, this one wasn't run-of-the-mill. Baze was nearly unseated just after the start when he was sandwiched between the horses on either side of him. The 54-year-old managed to stay aboard, but the incident caused Outside Nashville to drop to the back of the pack. Coming out of sprint races, the colt was expected to be close to the lead early.
Relying on his experience, Baze changed strategy and didn't rush his mount after the early trouble.
The duo remained unhurried until the final turn of the mile-and-one-sixteenth race, and then began passing horses.
By mid-stretch they were in front, and they pulled away for a 4-length victory.
As for Hollendorfer, he made two new adjustments for this race. He equipped Outside Nashville with blinkers and sent him a distance of ground (a race around two turns) for the first time in his nine-race career.
Outside Nashville paid $6.60 to win as the second choice in the wagering. Heat Streaker was second and favored Miceli settled for third.
Hollendorfer enjoyed a stakes double Saturday. Shortly after winning at the fair, his Lady of Fifty was a long-shot winner of the $300,000 Clement Hirsch at Del Mar.
While Hollendorfer is atop the trainer standings here, Baze found himself in second place as this meet reached its midway point. He has seven wins and that's two behind leader Juan Hernandez. Baze hasn't lost a local riding title in many years.
Baze rides in seven races today while Hernandez is named on five horses. Both jockeys have mounts in the feature race which is the $50,000 added Joseph T. Grace Handicap. Each will be riding Southern California invaders. Hernandez will handle Fire With Fire in the mile-and-one-sixteenth turf test while Baze will climb aboard Grand Berry.
Ten races are on tap beginning at 1:15 p.m. with a dash for mules.
Local trainers Gary Greiner and Steve Specht have horses running today. Specht will send out a pair — Adriatic Skye and Zipping My Way — in the seventh race while Greiner will tighten the girth on My T Quick prior to the eighth.
Greg Gilchrist, who trained Eclipse Award-winning sprinter Lost in the Fog will be the guest at today's handicapping seminar at 11:30 a.m. in Shade Park.