Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and the California Thoroughbred Trainers, the state-authorized organization that represents conditioners' best interests in dealings with racing entities, filed a civil complaint Monday aimed at allowing the Hall of Famer to train this summer.
The complaint in San Diego Superior Court lists the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club as a defendant after the track, with its meeting opening Wednesday, has reportedly told Hollendorfer and his attorney, Drew Couto, he's not welcome to train and race there.
While Del Mar has not publicly announced its policy on Hollendorfer, the trainer was last month banned from Santa Anita Park, where during the course of the racing season that began Dec. 26, four of his horses died as a result of injuries on track.
Hollendorfer has countered that he has no rulings against him, has never previously been suspended by a track and followed track operator The Stronach Group's increased safety measures during a turbulent winter and spring for racing in southern California.
Former trainer Darrell Vienna, now an attorney, is representing the California Thoroughbred Trainers, according to the Thoroughbred Daily News, which first reported the complaint had been filed.
Cited in the complaint is an agreement between the CTT and Del Mar that no trainers who are CTT members "can be excluded or eliminated from participation on an arbitrary or capricious basis." Hollendorfer is therefore seeking a restraining order against Del Mar that would allow him to conduct business there.
The Stronach Group, which has banned Hollendorfer from all its tracks, including Golden Gate Fields in northern California, can do so as a private company. Del Mar, meanwhile, sits on fairgrounds land owned by the state.
Hollendorfer's top assistant, Dan Ward, now oversees a number of his horses, including More Ice, who runs in Wednesday's featured Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar. Others have moved to new barns completely, such as Sneaking Out, the 6-2 morning line favorite for Friday's Osunitas now in the care of Keith Desormeaux.
A civil complaint by Hollendorfer and the CTT begins a lawsuit, serving notice to the defendant of a plaintiff's claims.
Earlier this month, other horsemen groups not active in California, issued a statement calling for "due process" for Hollendorfer.
"In a government sanctioned and regulated industry, it is required," said the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. "Every person in our industry who holds a license to participate is given a right to due process when their livelihood is threatened. We are an industry that operates according to rules and regulations, standards are clear, violations have consequences and we are transparent.
"The situation which occurred recently at Santa Anita from The Stronach Group regarding Jerry Hollendorfer has clearly sidestepped those rights and exemplifies our concerns. By this action, every licensee in racing is on notice of potential arbitrary career-ending actions by racetracks without rules, standards, the right to due process, fundamental fairness and accountability."