Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has been banned by the ownership of Santa Anita after a fourth horse from his stable died – and the 30th overall – at the Southern California track.
The Stronach Group, which owns the track, said in a statement that effective immediately Hollendorfer “is no longer welcome to stable, race or train his horses at any of our facilities”.
On the recommendation of a special panel convened to review horses’ medical, training and racing history, the track’s stewards scratched four horses trained by Hollendorfer entered to run on Saturday and Sunday.
A four-year-old gelding trained by Hollendorfer was injured on Saturday while exercising on the training track and was euthanised.
It was the 30th death since the racing season began on December 26. The track closes for the season on Sunday (Monday AEST).
Hollendorfer could not immediately be reached for comment.
A nine-year-old gelding named Kochees trained by Hollendorfer was euthanised on May 26 after injuring his left front leg in a race a day earlier.
At the time, a spokesman for The Stronach Group told the AP it was looking into whether new protocols were followed leading up to the gelding’s death.
The Stronach Group said in a statement it regrets Hollendorfer’s record in recent months at both Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields in Northern California “has become increasingly challenging and does not match the level of safety and accountability we demand”.
The track owner said 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.
Mike Marten, spokesman for the California Horse Racing Board, said Hollendorfer’s gelding American Currency was not entered to run in any race and thus was not subject to review by the special panel.
Kochees’ injury appeared to be correctable through surgery but when doctors realised the horse had lost blood flow to the leg, he was put down.
Among the rules put in place since March, a trainer’s veterinarian must sign off on a horse’s fitness before the track’s veterinarian also examines the animal ahead of it training or racing.
“In my mind there is absolutely no doubt that we’ve done every single thing properly with Kochees and all the rest of our horses, too,” Hollendorfer said after the Kochees incident.
“We certainly are pretty sad when they get hurt.”
The 72-year-old trainer is best known for overseeing Eclipse Award winners Blind Luck, Shared Belief and Songbird. Based in Northern California for most of his career, Hollendorfer frequently races his horses at Southern California’s tracks,
He is known for buying young horses at auction in the low to mid-price range, often with his own money.
He then puts together ownership groups and retains a percentage of the horses while also training them.