More and more fallout from Santa Anita Racetrack. Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was banned by the ownership of Santa Anita after the fourth horse from his stable — and 30th horse overall — has died at the Arcadia, Southern California track.
The Stronach Group, which owns the track, said in a statement that effective immediately Hollendorfer “is no longer welcome to stable, race or train his horses at any of our facilities.”
Hollendorfer couldn’t immediately be reached for comment at the time stories were posted.
What Happened Now
On the recommendation of a special panel convened to review horses’ medical, training and racing histories, the track’s stewards scratched four horses trained by Hollendorfer that were entered to run Saturday and Sunday.
A Hollendorfer trained, 4-year-old gelding was injured recently while exercising on the training track and had to be euthanized. It was the first death of the meet on the training track. This was the 30th horse’s death since the racing season began Dec. 26th, 2018. The track closes for the season in a matter of days.
The high number fatalities have led officials at Santa Anita and the California Horse Racing Board to initiate the passing of several measures to address not only horse but rider safety. The recent deaths have drawn national political attention, including from Gov. Gavin Newsom and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, of California, who has actually called for racing to stop while training and racing conditions are inspected.
Hollendorfer told the Daily Racing Form, “I’m training over 100 horses right now. Santa Anita didn’t want me stay on the grounds. My opinion was that was a premature thing to do. I thought it was extreme. Now I have to step away for a while.”
Who Is Hollendorfer
Hollendorfer has over 7,000+ winning horses from 33,000+ starters and purse earnings of just under $200,000,000 in his career, according to Equibase.com.
He has three wins in the Breeders’ Cup, but none in the Triple Crown races. His best finish with seven Kentucky Derby starters was third in 2017 with Battle of Midway.
Hollendorfer’s first horse to die at the meet was a 4-year-old gelding on Dec. 30th, 2018, after a race on the dirt. A 9-year-old gelding named Kochees trained by Hollendorfer was euthanized on May 26th, 2018, after injuring his left front leg in a race a day earlier.
And Then He Was Banned
As of now, it is not known if Hollendorfer will be allowed to race at Los Alamitos in Orange County when that meet opens June 29th, 2019. A spokesman for Del Mar said the track was aware of Hollendorfer’s ban and was currently gathering information on which direction to go. Del Mar near San Diego opens July 17. Neither track is owned by The Stronach Group. The racing board says a panel also will review horses entered to run at Los Alamitos.
A spokesman for The Stronach Group told The AP that it was looking into whether new protocols were followed leading up to the gelding being euthanized.
The Stronach Group said in a statement Saturday it regrets that Hollendorfer’s record in recent months at both Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields in Northern California “has become increasingly challenging and does not match the level of safety and accountability we demand.” Both tracks are owned by The Stronach Group; Golden Gate doesn’t resume racing until Aug. 15.
Track owners said that individuals who don’t embrace the new rules and safety measures that put horse and rider safety above all else will have no place at any Stronach Group racetrack. It seems like now is the time to get strict. And maybe it should have happened already, earlier.
Mike Marten, a spokesman for the California Horse Racing Board, said Hollendorfer’s gelding American Currency injured Saturday wasn’t entered to run in any race and thus wasn’t subject to review by the special panel.
Hollendorfer’s horse, Kochees’ injury appeared to be correctable through surgery. However, when doctors realized the horse had lost blood flow to the leg, he was euthanized. Perhaps this is one incident that raised eyebrows.
“In my mind there is absolutely no doubt that we’ve done every single thing properly with Kochees and all the rest of our horses, too,” Hollendorfer said in response to questioning by The AP on May 27. “We certainly are pretty sad when they get hurt.”
Among the new rules that have been enacted from March, a trainer’s veterinarian must sign off on a horse’s fitness before the track’s veterinarian also takes a look at the animal ahead of its training or racing.
Hollendorfer, the 73-year-old trainer, is best known for overseeing Eclipse Award winners Blind Luck, Shared Belief and Songbird. Based in Northern California for most of his career, Hollendorfer frequently ships his horses to Southern California’s tracks to run.
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