DEFECTIVE RACING HALL OF FAME SELECTION?

The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame inducted Jerry Hollendorfer in 2011.  His biographical sketch begins: “At the time of his Hall of Fame induction, Jerry Hollendorfer ranked in the top 10 in all-time wins and purse earnings among North American trainers.”

Last Saturday, Mighty Elijah became the eighth race-related horse fatality for Mr. Hollendorfer in the past 13 months, when the gelding suffered a leg injury at Los Alamitos and was euthanized.

Mr. Hollendorfer is banned from Santa Anita and Golden Gate Field, both owned by the Stronach Group.  He got a court order to permit him to train and race at Del Mar. This is incongruent with a Hall of Fame profile.

Did Mr. Hollendorfer’s training abilities erode since he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011 or did the HOF selection committee fail to do sufficient due diligence?

Major American professional sports have a superior system for evaluating HOF candidates.  For instance, in the National Football League, a player or coach cannot be considered until he has been retired for at least five years, which allows for a more objective retrospective assessment of a person’s body of work. Mr. Hollendorfer would likely not be voted into the HOF today, given what is known about his recent widely publicized sordid record with horse fatalities, a record that has contributed mightily to tarnishing racing’s image, especially in California.

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Continuing with the subject of horse fatalities, consider the following narrative from Harness Racing Update on December 13, 2019:

“Famed researcher Dr. Tom Tobin of the Gluck Institute at the University of Kentucky said studies show one death per 700 starts in Kentucky thoroughbreds, one death per 1,000 starts for the same breed in England, and one death per 16,600 starts in the Ohio standardbred.  A thoroughbred is 36 times more likely to succumb to a racing injury than a standardbred.”

California has one Standardbred track, Cal Expo.  The last time a horse fatality occurred there as a result of a racing injury was 2006.

When critics call for reform or abandonment of horse racing, the harness folks get unfairly painted with a broad brush.

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