The San Diego Superior Court judge hearing the case between trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) dismissed both writs filed by the trainer.
The two mandates constituted a legal twist, essentially, over which entity — the tracks or agency that regulates California’s racing industry — had ultimate jurisdiction to bar the trainer from licensed premises in the state, a hearing for which was held on 8 October.
According to Hollendorfer’s attorney, Drew Couto, both decisions are appealable, “and those decisions are under review.”
The TDN has reached out to CHRB for comment and will update if necessary.
This entire legal saga began when The Stronach Group (TSG) banned Hollendorfer from its facilities after six of the trainer’s horses were catastrophically injured between December 2018 and June 2019 at Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita, a period in which the latter track experienced a well-publicized increase in equine deaths during an unusually wet period.
Last July, Hollendorfer reached a settlement with the owners of TSG-controlled subsidiaries of Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields, the details of which have not been publicly disclosed.
Hollendorfer has not competed or trained at TSG-owned facilities since that June 2019 ban.
The first of the two mandates concerned the race meeting agreement (RMA) between the tracks and the California Thoroughbred Trainers (CTT).
Hollendorfer argued that the CHRB “abused its discretion” by voting to deem the RMA in effect when the trainer’s initial ban from Santa Anita “expired” and “incapable of repetition” when it came to Hollendorfer’s subsequent actions via CTT — namely, when Del Mar tried to ban Hollendorfer from its grounds in the summer of 2019 and again later that fall when the trainer tried to enter horses at Santa Anita.
In a Nov. 22 order, Judge Ronald Frazier dismissed that first warrant on the grounds that Hollendorfer “lacks standing” to file the petition.
“Any complaint alleging a violation of an RMA can only be brought by one of the contracting entities — i.e., the riders’ organization (here, the CTT) or the racing association (here, the LATC and the PRA),” Frazier wrote.
In his second term, Hollendorfer argued that the CHRB, through its board of trustees, had the final right to deny a trainer’s entries, not the individual racing association. As such, he sought to “compel” the CHRB “to carry out its mandatory ministerial duties” to decide through a hearing whether the trainer should be able to run at Santa Anita and Golden Gate.
Frazier wrote that the court “reviewed the records submitted and considered the arguments of counsel and finds that petitioner has not sufficiently demonstrated that a hearing was required pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 19573.”
In pre-hearing documents, Hollendorfer also questioned CHRB’s impartiality in handling his case, citing email communications and testimony from former board members that appeared to betray favorable attitudes toward TSG’s actions against the coach.
Frazier rejected those claims, writing that “regardless of the existence or non-existence of the alleged biases and conflicts of interest, petitioner has failed to demonstrate that they in any way influenced or influenced the respondent’s investigations.”
Hollendorfer’s case against the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is ongoing.