Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was ruled off the Santa Anita track after a fourth horse in his care died while racing or training.
American Currency on Saturday suffered a life-ending leg injury to his left-front fetlock (ankle) while running over the training track, according to Rick Arthur, chief equine veterinarian for the California Horse Racing Board. It was the first fatality this meeting on the training track, which sits between the turf course and infield area and is not used for racing. It was the 30th horse fatality since the meeting opened Dec. 26.
“Individuals who do not 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,” the company that owns Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields, in Albany, Calif., said in a statement.
“We regret that Mr. Hollendorfer’s record in recent months at both Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields has become increasingly challenging and does not match the level of safety and accountability we demand. Effective immediately, Mr. Hollendorfer is no longer welcome to stable, race or train his horses at any of our facilities.”
In addition to the four horses at Santa Anita, Hollendorfer lost two during the fall-winter meet at Golden Gate Fields. River Of Doubt, a 3-year-old filly, died Nov. 11, and Defiantly, a 6-year-old gelding, was euthanized Jan. 6 after breaking down.
Hollendorfer could not be reached for comment by The Times but told the Daily Racing Form on Saturday: “I’m trying to work out a plan now. The only thing I have to say is every time anyone loses a horse the whole backstretch loses.
“… I’m training over 100 horses right now. Santa Anita didn’t want me to 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.”
Santa Anita’s meeting ends Sunday, and Golden Gate Fields is currently not running.
American Currency, a 4-year-old gelding, had won three of 13 races lifetime. He was scheduled to run last Sunday in a $12,500 claiming race, among the lowest-quality races run at Santa Anita. However, he was listed as a veterinarian scratch.
In his last race May 17, a $25,000 claiming race, he finished last in a five-horse field, finishing 17 1/2 lengths behind the fourth-place horse. Hollendorfer was part-owner of the horse.
Hollendorfer had two horses entered Saturday, The Nightingale in the seventh and Dueling in the ninth. Both were scratched.
Hollendorfer, 73, maintains stables at Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields and just sent horses to run in New York.
Ed Allred, chairman and chief executive at Los Alamitos, said that Hollendorfer was welcome at his track, whose next meeting starts Saturday.
“Los Alamitos will gladly provide stalls to Jerry Hollendorfer, a Hall of Fame trainer and an unexcelled horseman,” Allred said. “Unless forbidden by the California Horse Racing Board, we intend to permit entries from Hollendorfer. We do not feel he should be a scapegoat for a problem which derives from a number of factors.”
Joe Harper, chief executive and president of Del Mar, said it was too early for them to make a decision whether Hollendorfer will be allowed to race at the seaside track. An NYRA spokesman said the track was aware of the situation but had no further comment.
The first horse of Hollendorfer’s to die this meeting was Psychedelicat, a 4-year-old gelding, when he was euthanized after breaking down in a $16,000 claiming race. His second horse to die was Battle Of Midway on Feb. 23. It was the former Breeders’ Cup winner’s death that sparked a national firestorm. Kochees, a 9-year-old gelding, died after suffering an injury in a $10,000 claiming race.