Three-time defending champion Rafael Bejarano has put his rivals for the jockey title in the rear view mirror, forging a nine-win lead over Tyler Baze and Joe Talamo with 11 racing days to go.
But in the trainer standings, Jerry Hollendorfer (15 wins) can look in the side view mirror and see Peter Miller (14) and Doug O'Neill (13) right above the “Objects May Be Closer Than They Appear” sticker.
If it sounds familiar, it should. Hollendorfer and Miller were co-champions of the 2014 summer meeting with 20 wins each, the second solo or shared title for Miller, the first Del Mar crown for Hollendorfer. O'Neill, a four-time title winner, finished fourth, four wins behind Hollendorfer and Miller.
Assessing their chances Wednesday morning, all three camps indicated it would be “let the chips fall where they may,” rather than “chips all in” to the finish.
“We still have a shot, but we're not going to lose any sleep over it,” said Leandro Mora, chief assistant to O'Neill.
“We're live (for the title) but we're not going to drop any horses into spots we shouldn't trying to win it,” said O'Neill stable operations director Steve Rothblum.
Hollendorfer, who won 36 straight training titles at Bay Meadows and 32 straight at Golden Gate Fields starting in 1986, had similar thoughts.
“We just do the best we can at all times and however it turns out is however it turns out,” Hollendorfer said. “We're trying to win as much money as we can here and it helps to win the most races.
“We've got a lot to run, but I imagine a lot of the guys have a lot to run still. We're not worrying about it. We're just going to run our horses, and however it turns out, we'll be happy.”
O'Neill jumped into the lead with a track-record five-win day on July 29, but cooled somewhat after that. Hollendorfer and Miller steadily cut into the lead and moved past.
“Whoever gets hot among the bigger barns is going to win it,” Miller said. “I'm hoping it's us, obviously. It has been an up-and-down meet for us. We certainly could have won four or five more races with a little better luck.
“But we've got a lot of live horses left and if we don't win, it won't be for a lack of trying.”
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