PLEASANTON, Calif. (June 22, 2014) -- Even while Longview Drive was losing 18 races in a row, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer didn't lose confidence in him, and that outlook was validated when the 5-year-old horse rallied from last place to win the $101,405 Oak Tree Handicap on Saturday at the Oak Tree at Pleasanton meet.
"Sometimes you realize that a horse has been running against some good horses but just hasn't figured out how to do it," Hollendorfer said by phone from Santa Anita.
Longview Drive gave signs in his previous two starts that he was figuring it out, as he finished fourth in the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile and second - losing by just a head to favored stablemate Summer Hit - in the Grade 3 All American Stakes.
"You can tell when a horse is coming around," Hollendorfer said. "This horse was training differently and acting differently. He's been doing a lot better."
Summer Hit also was in Saturday's race, but there were several differences between it and the All American Stakes that worked to Longview Drive's advantage.
The conventional dirt surface and the 1 1/8 -mile distance were things that Summer Hit had tried only once in 20 previous starts, he was hounded by long shot Cahill Chrome from the start to the top of the stretch, and he carried 124 pounds to Longview Drive's 117.
After putting away Cahill Chrome, Summer Hit was tackled almost immediately by Southern California invader Footbridge, who took over the lead inside the eighth pole. Then Longview Drive came rolling on the outside, gained the advantage in the final 50 yards and pulled away to a 1-length margin at the wire. Summer Hit finished an additional 3 lengths back in third.
"It was a little bit of everything," jockey Russell Baze said in explaining Summer Hit's defeat.
Longview Drive won three of his first four starts in 2011 and then finished third in the $1 million Delta Jackpot and the Grade 3 Sham Stakes. He now has won four of 23 starts.
"When a nice horse gets good again, they can win some big races," said William Antongeorgi, who rode Longview Drive for the third straight start. "I got the opportunity to get on him at the right time."
Antongeorgi said Longview Drive felt stronger on Pleasanton's dirt than on Golden Gate Field's synthetic surface.
"In that last race at Golden Gate, I had to get after him to get him into the race, but this time he just dragged me up there and then he was eating it up down the lane," he said. "I was happy to see someone put pressure on Russell's horse, but I think with the dirt and the distance my horse was best today."