Santa Anita banned horse trainer Jerry Hollendorfer in June following another horse death at the track that has been plagued by tragedy.
Hollendorfer’s 4-year-old gelding American Currency was the 30th horse to die at the Los Angeles-area track this season. Four of those horses were under Hollendorfer’s watch.
Hollendorfer, a Hall of Fame trainer, was subsequently banned at neighboring Del Mar, a San Diego-area track that recently opened its season.
Hollendorfer sued to be allowed to compete at Del Mar last week, arguing that the ban was “arbitrary and capricious.”
“The reason no one seems to know what it’s all about is because I haven’t been accused of anything,” Hollendorfer told the San Diego Union Tribune after he was banned. “The only thing is, I’ve been banned from Santa Anita and Golden Gate and no reason was given.”
Judge rules for Hollendorfer
Judge Ronald Frazier agreed with Hollendorfer in a Thursday ruling ordering Del Mar to grant Hollendorfer access to run his horses “until fair procedure can be completed, in the form of arbitration as per the Race Meet Agreement.”
“There is evidence Del Mar TC did indeed arbitrarily deny Mr. Hollendorfer’s stall application without first providing him fair procedure, Frazier said. “Accordingly, the court finds there is adequate evidence to conclude Plaintiffs have a reasonable likelihood of prevailing on the merits, as to their claims for declaratory relief and breach of contract.”
Del Mar pointed to deaths tied to Hollendorfer
Del Mar’s attorney Chris Jaczko argued on behalf of safety for the horses, citing Hollendorfer’s association with the Santa Anita deaths as cause to bar him.
“The racing industry in California is in the midst of an almost existential crisis amid calls from the public, media, Governor’s office, the California legislature, Congress and the (California Horse Racing Board) to pull out all reasonable stops to assure everyone that the industry is doing everything it reasonably can to ensure the safety of horses,” a filing from Jaczko read. “Unfortunately, despite his lengthy and successful career, during the past six months Hollendorfer has accounted for 15 percent of the horses that have lost their lives in racing and training at two California tracks.”
Fellow trainer Peter Miller, a self-proclaimed friend of Hollendorfer’s, placed the responsibility for horse safety at the the feet of track managers when talking with the Union Tribune earlier in July.
“As long as they continue to scapegoat the trainers, you’ll never get to the real answers and solution,” Miller said. “No one talks about it, but we have too many races. You want to fix breakdowns, quit pointing fingers at trainers and vets. Cut races and put in synthetic tracks.”
As trainers and track managers fight their battles in court, horses will continue to run and inevitably die.
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