In a ban that encompasses all Stronach Group tracks, Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was given 72 hours on Saturday to vacate the Santa Anita premises and remove the horses under his care. Hollendorfer also has a size-able string at Golden Gate, another Stronach owned track. The somewhat unprecedented move comes following two recent events. The CNN network ran a story on horse racing and Hollendorfer’s name was brought up in a questionable light. The following day, Saturday, American Currency, trained by Hollendorfer suffered fractured sesamoids in his left front ankle at the beginning of a breeze on the infield training track at Santa Anita. This became the 30th fatal injury at the current Santa Anita meet. Of the 30, 4 horses were trained by Hollendorfer. The three previous Santa Anita deaths were Psychedelicat on Dec. 30, Battle of Midway on Feb. 23 and Kochees on May 26. Battle of Midway had previously won the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Hollendorfer is no stranger to top class horses but also maintains a very active claiming stable. So far Los Alamitos has indicated they will give stalls to Hollendorfer. Del Mar has not taken an official position of yet.
Hollendorfer had this to say to the Paulick report:
“They’ve given me 72 hours to get off the racetrack. We’ve had a number of problems here this winter. We had three horses break down. Today we had a fourth one break down and they decided that they didn’t want me to run my horses today or tomorrow and they don’t want me to train here.”
Hollendorfer continued to the Paulick Report:
“I think my record is good, I can’t remember breaking any down last year or the year before. Everybody gets one once in a while, but I’ve had four. We’re surprised that this happened to us. I’ve been in the Hall of Fame a number of years now and been in the business 40 years. I’ve started over 33,500 horses. I think my employees will go with me if I move my horses, which I’m planning on doing. I have those people to worry about. We don’t know what happened this morning, but Santa Anita is not going to allow me to be on the grounds, and we think it’s premature. I thought the ruling was extreme and I don’t really think I’ve done anything wrong, but I would be willing to step away from racing for a while. I don’t want to. I’ve practically devoted my whole life to this game. We get to the barn here at 3 a.m. and go over things to make sure everything is ready for training. I have employees that are the same way, and I’m very appreciative of that. We think we’ve done everything we can to ensure the safety or our horses. It hasn’t worked out for us this meet. I put policies in place many years ago and we follow those at every racetrack. That includes going over the horses each day; when I’m not here, I get a report before they go to the racetrack and after they come back to the racetrack.”
In the CNN report trainer Jim Cassidy, who is also the president of the California Thoroughbred Trainers had this to say about Hollendorfer:
“Jerry is tunnel vision. He does what he wants to do and that’s it. If you don’t like it, too bad.”
Hollendorfer is also credited with starting Down the Stretch.
The mission of Down the Stretch, A 501(c)3 non-profit accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, reads:
“The core of the foundation is to acquire Thoroughbred race horses that can no longer perform at the track because of age, injury or ability. These horses will be utilized to serve the community by providing therapeutic rehabilitation to veterans of war, both horses and humans will thrive from this unique opportunity. The horses will live out their lives in the comfort and honor they deserve and a wide range of veterans will benefit from the relationships they develop with these animals.”
“Through the use of equine therapy, these incredible animals will bring comfort and companionship to veterans of war. These horses can effectively change the lives of American Veterans who suffer from a diverse range of disadvantages and disabilities.”
Being private property racetracks really have the right to deny anyone access to their premises, stalls, or the ability to compete in their events. Rarely are such actions taken without some form of due process. Santa Anita has been under a microscope that extends outside the industry and into mainstream media, which for the most part usually leaves horse racing be. They have implemented stringent guidelines that are intended to improve safety and the well being of the horses long term. The Hollendorfer ruling appears to be an example of how they intend to deal with trainers and situations they feel fall outside their guidelines and best interests. In addition to his Santa Anita and Golden Gate stables, Hollendorfer recently started maintaining a string in New York under the care of Don Chatlos. It is unclear at present how NYRA will respond to the Stronach ruling.
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