Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer can return to stabling and racing horses at Del Mar if a tentative ruling by judge Ronald F. Frazier holds up Friday in a hearing in San Diego Superior Court.
Frazier’s tentative ruling published Thursday says “there is not sufficient evidence for the court to conclude (Del Mar) will suffer any harm by issuance of an injunction,” while the track in written statements by its attorney and president have argued that allowing Hollendorfer to remain active there is a public relations risk to its private business.
Parties will meet for a hearing at 11:30 a.m. PT, when it will be up to Del Mar to change Frazier’s opinion that the track can’t deny Hollendorfer’s stall applications “until fair procedure can be completed.”
Hollendorfer had the California Thoroughbred Trainers join him in a July 15 complaint that requested a restraining order allowing him to operate at Del Mar. Last month, The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields, banned him from the grounds after four of his horses died as a result of injuries in racing and training since Dec. 26.
“There is evidence (Del Mar) did indeed arbitrarily deny Mr. Hollendorfer's stall application without first providing him fair procedure,” Frazier’s tentative ruling reads. “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.”
Chris Jaczko, the attorney representing Del Mar, wrote earlier in asking Frazier to dismiss the complaint that, “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.
“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 California tracks.”
Hollendorfer, 73, ranks third all-time in North America in wins with multiple champions, Breeders’ Cup winners and a Kentucky Oaks heroine.
Dan Ward, Hollendorfer’s assistant, has operated what’s left of the stable. Frazier noted in his tentative ruling that since Del Mar’s ban “was first reported to the media,” Hollendorfer has lost some 40 horses.
Between the Santa Anita and Del Mar meets, which began July 17, Hollendorfer runners competed at Los Alamitos without issue. Del Mar runs through Labor Day.