Hall of fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who was banned from running horses at two California racetracks last month, has now been told he cannot run horses at a third track, Del Mar, which opens its summer season July 17.

The third ban puts Hollendorfer's 40-year career in jeopardy, his lawyer, Drew Couto, who is based in San Diego, told this news organization Wednesday.

Couto said Hollendorfer has about 60 horses he plans to run at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa for the competitions that there Aug. 1-4 and Aug. 8-11.

But, Couto said, "When racing finishes in Santa Rosa, Jerry has no place to go in Northern California."

He added, "Sixty horses have to be dispersed. The owners have to move them, sell them. That's just a practical reality."

Couto said he thinks Del Mar officials banned Hollendorfer earlier this week because they decided they could not risk the public outcry. He said the track actively encouraged Hollendorfer to enter horses in its races when the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields in Albany, banned Hollendorfer last month from both tracks. The ban came after a fourth horse trained by him died at Santa Anita while racing or training.

"They don't think they can absorb the public relations risk," said Couto, formerly the president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California. "That's our perception of what we've been told."

Del Mar officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hollendorfer could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

The horse racing industry has faced a backlash this year with growing awareness of how many thoroughbreds die during racing and training across the country. Santa Anita saw 30 horses die during its season that ran from late December to June.

Golden Gate Fields had nine racing and training fatalities from late December to June, according to the California Horse Racing Board. Two of the deaths were horses that Hollendorfer had trained.

After being banned from Santa Anita and Golden Gate, Hollendorfer also was barred by the New York Racing Association. Hollendorfer, 73, of Port Richmond, ranks third among all-time among trainers, with 7,622 race wins.

He got his start on Bay Area tracks four decades ago.

Couto said Del Mar officials are being forced into making a public relations move.

"They feel they are boxed into a corner," he said. "They are getting a lot of pressure from a lot of angles to say something."

He said he is trying to find a pragmatic solution for his client, "one that prevents Jerry from losing his entire business."

Couto said the California Horse Racing Board, which is the body that licenses trainers, does not have any pending actions against Hollendorfer.

Chuck Winner, the racing board's chairman, said Wednesday individual track owners have the right to accept or reject any licensee.

"But as far as the CHRB is concerned, Hollendorfer is a licensed trainer," he said.

Visit The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com

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