Del Mar’s summer meet began last week with Dan Ward, former assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, saddling the recently banned trainer's horses. Among them was King Jack, a winning favourite on opening day.
Documents following Hollendorfer’s recently filed complaint, which seeks a restraining order that would allow him to reassume control of the barn, shed light on why Del Mar denied him from stabling and entering horses there following similar decisions by The Stronach Group and New York Racing Association.
A judge's decision could come as soon as Friday.
In a declaration, Del Mar President and COO Josh Rubinstein wrote that Hollendorfer and his attorney were informed he would not be receiving stalls this meet at Del Mar during a June 28 meeting. According to Rubinstein’s declaration, Drew Couto, who represents Hollendorfer, said, "We get it Jerry's radioactive. We get it.”
The risk of a public relations hit to California’s premier summer meet was also cited in a separate filing by Chris Jaczko, Del Mar’s attorney, in San Diego County Superior Court.
Four of the 30 horses to die as a result of injuries in racing and training at Santa Anita Park last season were conditioned by the Hall of Famer. The Hollendorfer barn saw two more fatalities of Golden Gate Fields' nine total in the northern part of the state.
“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,” Jaczko wrote.
“Unfortunately, despite his lengthy and successful career during the past six months. Hollendorfer has accounted for 15% of the horses that have lost their lives in racing and training at two Califomia tracks.”
Jaczko also wrote that at Del Mar, “if a fatal injury were to occur to one of (Hollendorfer’s) horses, the clamour to end horse racing would be deafening and undermine the industry's efforts to address concerns about safety.”
Del Mar’s legal team suggested the track, a private entity, did not discriminate against the trainer, as he is still eligible to train at other current meets in California and around the country.
“Thus,” Jaczko wrote, “the prejudice to Hollendorfer of not being able to participate in Del Mar's race meet is minimal and is outweighed by the prejudice to DMTC if it is ordered to permit him to do so."
The California Thoroughbred Trainers joined Hollendorfer’s complaint filed July 15. Rubinstein noted in his letter that a June 21 CNN story on Hollendorfer included an interview with Jim Cassidy, former president of the CTT.
Cassidy did not go to bat for Hollendorfer.
“Jerry’s just — tunnel vision,” Cassidy told CNN. “He does what he wants to do, and that’s it. If you don’t like it, that’s too bad. I’m just saying.”
Last month, Horse Racing Nation asked Hollendorfer about that statement.
“I think CNN put on a pretty biased piece of information and tried to make it into a negative story instead of just reporting the facts,” he said, adding that he didn’t feel Cassidy’s opinion was one held widely by his training peers.
The morning after CNN’s piece aired, Hollendorfer’s fourth Santa Anita runner died after breaking down entering a workout. The Stronach Group ordered him off the grounds within 72 hours. Hollendorfer has argued since the beginning that he doesn’t have a stewards ruling against him, nor has he previously been suspended by any track.
Jaczko wrote that Hollendorfer has filed for “essentially the same complaint for relief” via a restraining order with the California Horse Racing Board.
“The CHRB has not yet ruled on (Hollendorfer’s) complaint, and this application presents a significant risk of inconsistent rulings between the Court and the CHRB,” Jaczko wrote.
Hollendorfer, with more than 7,600 winners, sits third on the all-time list behind only Dale Baird and Steve Asmussen. In the days following his ban from The Stronach Group’s tracks, most owners stuck beside the Hall of Famer awaiting Del Mar’s decision. Hollendorfer was allowed to train and race at Los Alamitos during its recent meet, sandwiched between the larger seasons at Santa Anita and Del Mar.
Rubinstein’s full declaration, aside from materials from Exhibit 2, which included Hollendorfer’s personal contact information on stall applications, is available to view below: