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Jerry Hollendorfer goes on the offensive in battle to allow his horses at Golden Gate

Jerry Hollendorfer
Thoroughbred trainer Jerry Hollendorfer could learn Friday if a temporary restraining order will be granted that would allow him to stable and run his horses at Golden Gate Fields.
(Garry Jones / Associated Press )

The war of signed declarations between Stronach Group and Jerry Hollendorfer reached new heights as attorneys for Hollendorfer filed 17 declarations in the last few days to refute the eight declarations of TSG.

Alameda Superior Court Judge Noel Wise is expected to rule on Friday if a temporary restraining order will be granted that would allow Hollendorfer to stable and run his horses at Golden Gate Fields, which like Santa Anita is owned by TSG. Each side submitted declarations in support of their case.

Hollendorfer was banned from all TSG tracks after four of his horses died during the most recent Santa Anita meeting. The track saw 30 equine deaths total during the meet, with no trainer hit worse than Hollendorfer. The hall of fame trainer also had two deaths at Golden Gate.

The declarations even got personal, as Jennifer Finley, a veterinarian who works for Hollendorfer, questioned the credentials of Dionne Benson, chief veterinary officer for TSG. In her declaration, Benson said that Hollendorfer should have detected lameness in Kochees, the third of Hollendorfer’s four deaths.

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Finley identified herself as “an actual practicing veterinarian with more than a single year of practical experience as an intern in a clinic,” making light of Benson’s scant experience as a practicing veterinarian. Benson’s career has been almost exclusively on the regulatory side.

Jeff Blea, also a veterinarian who works for Hollendorfer, said Benson was “professionally irresponsible to opine as to the physical condition of any horse not personally examined.”

Veteran trainers Art Sherman and Doug O’Neill, who have three Kentucky Derby wins between them, also spoke on behalf of Hollendorfer and blamed Santa Anita for the fatalities, in identical language, saying “conditions at that meet were unlike any I’d experienced before, there or anywhere.”

Frank Stronach, former head of TSG who is currently suing his daughter Belinda, the company’s current chief executive, alleging mismanagement, took a shot at Santa Anita’s handling of the situation that resulted in all the deaths.

“Despite the problems with the track’s surface and management of the company, I remain confident in Jerry Hollendorfer’s skills as a trainer and horseman,” Stronach said.

Despite all the evidence as to Hollendorfer’s character and ability as a trainer, the decision of the judge may come down to none of that. The case made by Hollendorfer and the CTT is based on breach of contract, meaning that the trainer was barred without the consent of the CTT.

Regardless of the ruling, there may be a Round 3 of this fight when stall applications are submitted and racing resumes at Santa Anita on Sept. 27.


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