The unimaginable happened last weekend at Golden Gate Fields. When the Bay Area track's 30-day spring meet came to a close Sunday, Jerry Hollendorfer had not won the training title.
Billy Morey saddled four winners on Saturday to take a 25-23 lead, and neither trainer had a winner on closing day.
For Hollendorfer to not win the title is comparable to Kobe Bryant not being the Lakers' leading scorer.
Hollendorfer, one of only four North American trainers to have ever saddled more than 5,000 winners, had won 32 consecutive training titles at Golden Gate to go along with a streak of 37 training titles at Bay Meadows. He had been the leading trainer at every major meet in Northern California since 1986. And his horses have earned more than $91 million.
But now a horse named Heatseeker is shining a light on Hollendorfer, providing the national attention people in the sport believe he deserves.
"Within horse racing, he is regarded as one of the best in the country," Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens said.
And if Heatseeker pulls out a win Saturday in the 69th running of the Hollywood Gold Cup, as he is favored to do, and also wins the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita, Hollendorfer's national stature will grow even more.
Hollendorfer has had some nationally prominent horses before.
In 1998, Event Of The Year appeared to be a solid Kentucky Derby contender until a hairline fracture took him out of the race.
Two years later, Globalize had to be scratched from the Kentucky Derby after being kicked by a stable pony. Hollendorfer's Eye Of The Tiger placed fifth in the 2003 Kentucky Derby.
But Hollendorfer, nationally, is still not as big a name as some of his colleagues.
Maybe it's because he has toiled mostly in Northern California (although he says he now has 35 to 40 horses in Southern California and that number may soon increase).
Or maybe it's just because he doesn't seek attention.
"Jerry is a low-profile guy," said friend and rival trainer John Shirreffs.
"I don't think anybody minds gaining a little of the spotlight," Hollendorfer said. "But what I do, and the people in my stable do, is every day we work as hard as we can with what we have and we are certainly pleased to have Heatseeker. We are not working for fame. Our main goal is not to become famous. We are just trying to win."
Shirreffs, who saddles Tiago, Heatseeker's chief rival in Saturday's $750,000 race, has known Hollendorfer since the mid-1970s.
"Jerry is always out there at the crack of dawn," Shirreffs said. "And he's in constant motion all day."
Shirreffs has been widely quoted the last few days as saying, "Unless Heatseeker is carrying an anchor, I don't know how we're going to catch him."
Shirreffs and Hollendorfer were chatting Thursday morning at Hollywood Park when Shirreffs said, "I see you didn't get that anchor I was wishing you'd get."
They were laughing then, but it will be all business Saturday as the 4:43 p.m. post time approaches.
"I'd love to beat him," Shirreffs said.
Hollendorfer feels the same.
Mike Willman, who owns Gold Cup entrant McCann's Mojave, said, "It doesn't matter if it's a claiming race or a big one like the Gold Cup, it's the same for Jerry. He just wants to win."
Saturday at Hollywood Park
1 1/4 miles, 10th race on card.
4:43 p.m. approximate post