San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald F. Frazier ruled in favor of trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and California Thoroughbred Trainers on Friday afternoon, granting a preliminary injunction and overturning the ban by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club against the Hall of Fame trainer preventing him from stabling or entering races at the Southern California racetrack.
Frazier affirmed his tentative ruling published Thursday after listening to final arguments from Chris Jaczko, representing Del Mar Thoroughbred Club; Hollendorfer's attorney, Drew Couto; and Darrell Vienna, representing CTT.
Frazier ordered an arbitration and the parties will reconvene in Superior Court Oct. 25 at 10:45 a.m. PT.
Jaczko opened by telling Frazier that, in light of the judge's tentative ruling, he had the “unenviable task of rolling the boulder up the hill.” He argued that the decision by Del Mar to ban Hollendorfer was not “arbitrary,” but a business decision that Del Mar had the right to make because of potential monetary damage resulting from bad publicity he said would occur if Hollendorfer participated in racing there. “So long as there is a business rationale, it's not arbitrary,” he said.
In fact, Jaczko insisted, Del Mar would suffer greater financial consequences than Hollendorfer has because Hollendorfer is allowed to race at Northern California county fairs and at out-of-state tracks.
Hollendorfer was banished June 22 by officials at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., where he had four horses euthanized from late December until June. He had another two fatalities at Golden Gate Fields in Northern California. Both tracks are owned by The Stronach Group, which gave no specific reason for excluding Hollendorfer.
“For the best interests of our business, we don't want Mr. Hollendorfer here,” said Jaczko, adding that he did not think Hollendorfer did anything wrong that resulted in the horse fatalities.
Vienna, who said Hollendorfer has started more horses than any trainer in the history of California racing, said the ban was “clearly arbitrary.” He also argued that it violates Del Mar's race meet agreement with the CTT.
In his ruling, Frazier said issuance of the preliminary injunction was based on two factors: the likelihood that the plaintiffs will ultimately prevail, and the fact that Hollendorfer would sustain irreparable harm if he was not allowed back at Del Mar.
“I guess I can go back to work,” Hollendorfer said afterwards. “I'm very grateful the judge ruled in our favor.”
Hollendorfer has been stabled at Los Alamitos, where he he was welcome to race race at the recent Thoroughbred meet would return to Del Mar as early as Sunday to watch some of his horses train.
“I've lost an awful lot of business because of this,” he said. “I've lost at least half my stable. It's been very difficult getting through this.”
Couto said Santa Anita is on their “radar” for possible legal action.
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