For Dollases, Racing Is the Family Business
Craig Dollase will run Elloluv, the second choice in today’s Kentucky Oaks, and about 24 hours later his father Wally will saddle Ten Most Wanted, another second choice, in the Kentucky Derby.
“If they both won, it would be like having Christmas and your birthday on the same day,” said Cincy Dollase, the mother of one and the wife of the other.
To say that the Dollase barn at Churchill Downs -- and at Hollywood Park the rest of the year -- is a family affair would be an understatement. Cincy Dollase, who has never seen a Dollase horse she couldn’t watch, is the confidant and troubleshooter of the outfit. Cincy and Wally’s daughter Aimee is her father’s assistant trainer. Another daughter, Michelle, who’s married to jockey Corey Nakatani, runs a farm in Bradbury, Calif., and pitches in whenever needed.
Michelle was here Thursday, backing up her father, brother and sister, and last month, on a day when Ten Most Wanted was winning the Illinois Derby and Elloluv was winning the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, she stood in for her brother and saddled Logician for the Santa Anita Derby.
Mike Jarvis, a 20% owner in a 10-member partnership that races Ten Most Wanted, goes back to the mid-1990s with the Dollases. He also owned a piece of the Wally Dollase-trained Deputy Commander, the 1997 Travers winner and sire of Ten Most Wanted.
“Wally’s more than a trainer, he’s my friend,” said Jarvis, who lives in Manhattan Beach. “He and Aimee are quite a combination. They’re so hands-on in everything they do.”
Jarvis tells about going to Dollase’s barn last year to visit the stakes-winning Good Journey. The horse was lying down in his stall. Lying next to him was Aimee, on her back, reading that day’s Daily Racing Form.
“There she was, right next to this 1,200-pound animal,” Jarvis said. “Amazing.”
Ten Most Wanted, who cost $145,000 as an unraced 2-year-old, went through an earlier auction and brought $70,000 as a yearling. He goes into the Derby at 6-1, behind only 6-5 favorite Empire Maker on the morning line. Ten Most Wanted, who at one time was 100-1 in Nevada future books -- Jarvis nailed him at that price in December -- gathered momentum with a four-length win in the Illinois Derby, his first stakes win and his second victory in five starts.
Wally Dollase wasn’t trying to ape War Emblem, who used the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne as a launching pad for his win in the Kentucky Derby a year ago.
“I didn’t even give that a thought,” Dollase said. “I liked the timing of the race, and I thought we could handle the competition. I wouldn’t be smart enough to remember what War Emblem did before he won the Derby.”
Pat Day rode Ten Most Wanted at Hawthorne. In his first race aboard the Deputy Commander colt, they finished third in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. Day, 49, is an icon wherever he rides, ranking second to the recently retired Laffit Pincay with 8,455 victories, but his esteem reaches epic proportions at Churchill Downs, where he has won almost 2,300 races, among them the 1992 Derby with Lil E. Tee.
Kent Desormeaux, who won the 1998 Derby with Real Quiet and in 2000 with Fusaichi Pegasus, rode Ten Most Wanted in his first three races, but in the El Camino Real he jumped to Ministers Wild Cat, who finished second. Day had won races for Dollase with Good Journey, but no thought was given to offering him the mount until Jarvis suggested making a call.
“Somebody said that Pat had probably never ridden at Golden Gate, but it was still worth a try,” Jarvis said. “You know how the top jocks are: They’re all shopping for a Derby mount at this time of year.”
This will be Day’s 21st Derby mount, which will tie him for second with Eddie Arcaro and Pincay. Arcaro won the race five times, Pincay once. Bill Shoemaker, who rode in 26 Derbies, won four of them.
In the blind draw to determine order of picking for post positions, Ten Most Wanted’s camp had the fourth-to-last choice. With advice from Day, Dollase picked No. 16, inside of only one horse in the 17-horse field.
“This colt gets antsy in the gate,” Day said. “He’ll be better off if he has to stand in the stall with only one other horse to load. That’ll keep him from getting anxious, and keep his mind on his game.”
At Ten Most Wanted’s barn Thursday, Day virtually guaranteed that he’d be riding today and Saturday, even though he has missed the last three days of racing here. The Hall of Fame rider was sore from a spill at Keeneland last week, then injured his back Tuesday while tossing a bag of garbage into a dumpster at his Louisville home.
“Just as I let go of the bag, I went down,” a sheepish Day said. “I wasn’t thinking, and should have bypassed doing that. Down there on the ground, I had ‘stupid’ written all over my forehead.”