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Home / Judge Maurice Leiter

Trainer Hollendorfer defends record despite horse deaths at Santa Anita

Longtime race horse trainer Jerry Hollendorfer defended his record Monday in the first phase of trial of his lawsuit against the owners and operators of Santa Anita Park — who barred him from working there after four equine fatalities at The Stronach Group-owned track in Arcadia as well as two at Golden Gate Fields in early 2019.

Hollendorfer told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maurice Leiter that if his 10 prior years at Santa Anita are examined, he is “way down from the top” when compared to other trainers whose horses have died under their supervision.

The judge is being asked to decide only one issue — Hollendorfer’s bid for declaratory relief — in which the trainer maintains the defendants could not exclude him without the approval of the California Thoroughbred Trainers,  a trade association representing horse trainers.

Hollendorfer, 75, testified he was first licensed in 1979 and is third all-time in wins in California and fourth all-time in starts. He also said he was the leading trainer for 27 years at Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows Racetrack and for two years at Santa Anita, and that he is licensed in multiple other states.

But in his opening statement, defense attorney Luis Li said Hollendorfer was not entitled to a CTT sign-off of his exclusion from Santa Anita.

“When you cut through the arguments, we’re talking about whether Santa Anita has control over what happens on its land,” Li said.

Questioned by Li about the stall agreements he signed that gave the Los Angeles Turf Club the right to refuse trainer applications, Hollendorfer acknowledged he did not read the fine print and never said he was signing the forms under protest.

In November, Leiter denied Hollendorfer’s bid for a court order allowing him to enter horses under his name at Santa Anita’s 2021-22 winter/spring meet. A jury will decide the larger issues in the case after the first phase of trial is completed.

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