By Dan Ross
Jerry Hollendorfer and the California Thoroughbred Trainers (CTT) filed a complaint for emergency relief in the Alameda County Superior Court Monday seeking either a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) or a Preliminary Injunction against the Pacific Racing Association (PRA) which would permit the veteran trainer to stable and race his horses at the association’s Golden Gate Fields facility.
Just last month, a judge at the Superior Court of San Diego granted the trainer a preliminary injunction against Del Mar, giving him permission to stable and race horses under his name at the Southern California venue, the facility having barred him from doing so prior to the start of the meet.
Del Mar’s decision followed action taken by Santa Anita management back in June, when they told the trainer to remove his horses from The Stronach Group-owned facility, along with 60 horses from TSG-owned Golden Gate Fields. This after four Hollendorfer-trained horses were catastrophically injured at the facility during a six-month period.
CNN had also reported in June on two Hollendorfer-trained horses catastrophically injured at Golden Gate, which the Paulick Report identified as happening in November of last year and in January of this year. Hollendorfer has had no official regulatory ruling against him during this time.
Live racing at Golden Gate Fields is set to resume Aug. 15.
“We’re trying to work it out, I can tell you that,” said Darrell Vienna, an attorney representing the CTT. “Litigation is a last resort,” he added. “We’ve attempted to do this already, to work things out. That happened with Del Mar, and it’s happened with Santa Anita and Golden Gate. But we haven’t been able to get a resolution, and so, that’s why we’re in litigation.”
The “backbone” of the CTT’s argument, said Vienna, surrounds the 2018-2019 race-meet agreement that the CTT and the PRA entered into in November of last year.
“The CTT’s point of view is that we believe that the Pacific Racing Association/Stronach Group have breached the race meet agreement by doing one of two things, or both,” Vienna said. “Excluding or eliminating Mr. Hollendorfer’s ability to participate in the meeting without the consent of the CTT, and secondly, by failing to provide a timely grievance hearing. And that’s where we are right now.”
The court filing quotes language from the race meet agreement which would put the following restrictions on stall applications: “Track may, in its discretion, establish rules, regulations, and security procedures that may limit or eliminate Applicant’s ability to participate in racing or training activities at Track or any auxiliary facility, subject to the agreement of the CTT. The agreement of CTT shall be a condition precedent to any execution of a decision by Track to limit or eliminate Applicant’s ability to participate in racing or training activities at Track or any Auxiliary training facility,” the filing states.
“Any difference between the race-meet agreement and the stall application, the language of the race-meet agreement controls,” said Vienna.
Furthermore, the filing states that when it comes to stalls assignments, if the trainer is “duly licensed,” the racetrack will not discriminate in any way against that trainer “by way of any arbitrary or capricious conduct by Track.”
The filing states that if any trainer asserts that they have been arbitrarily discriminated against by the facility, “then the trainer claiming to be so aggrieved may submit his claim to Track or to CTT for examination, and if CTT shall then believe the claim to have merit, CTT shall be entitled to present the merits of the grievance on behalf of such trainer to Track. If the dispute is not settled, Track and CTT agree that the matter is to proceed immediately to arbitration before a hearing officer chosen by mutual consent by Track and CTT.”
The 65-page court filing identifies a number of issues surrounding things like fair procedure and breach of contract, with much attention paid to the Hall of Famer’s reputation during a decades-long career, including the 32 straight leading trainer titles Hollendorfer accrued at Golden Gate Fields by 2008.
The complaint also states that, “at no time prior to or after Hollendorfer was advised of Santa Anita’s ‘ban’ did any PRA representative inform him that his conduct or failure to act while stabled at and participating in race meets run at GGF were considered as a basis for the decision and actions communicated to him by Santa Anita representatives.”
Embedded in the complaint is the following piece of information: “At no time between September 1, 2015, and July 31, 2019, had Hollendorfer experienced an equine fatality–of any nature–at any racetrack in California, or elsewhere in the United States, other than at a track owned by TSG or one of its subsidiaries.”
The TDN has not independently verified that assertion. The TDN has reached out to TSG for comment on the complaint but didn’t hear back before deadline.