Gulfstream Park and The Stronach Group are committed to being at the forefront of horse and rider welfare as we take horse racing into the modern era and beyond.
A robust veterinary team on-site and on-call
Gulfstream Park has 7 Track Veterinarians on staff to oversee racing and training activities.
The Track Veterinarians are on-site for all pre-race checks, pre-race activity of horses involved in each race and also follows each race field in a truck equipped with veterinary supplies needed should an incident occur to ensure the quickest and best possible response.
In April 2019, The Stronach Group announced that Dr. Dionne Benson, DVM, JD, will serve as the group’s chief veterinary officer. For the past seven years, Benson has been the executive director and chief operating officer for the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.
Dr. Benson directs safety, welfare, and veterinary research and initiatives for Stronach Group facilities across the country, including, Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields (California), Gulfstream Park (Florida), and Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park (Maryland).
Gulfstream Park also employs additional veterinarians to look for and examine at-risk or questionable horses, whether that be in training, in a workout, or on a race day.
Pre-race exams: The Track veterinarians perform pre-race exams of every horse the morning the horse is to race. The exam, which takes place with the trainer at the horse’s barn, is to determine the horse’s soundness to race. The exam includes observing the horse while being jogged and examining the horse’s legs, attitude and demeanor all while referencing past race-day exam information provided by the state’s official vet office records.
During the races: There are two Track veterinarians on duty during race days. One Track vet meets the horses in the Paddock to observe the horses before each race. He or she continues to monitor the horses during the post parade and while they are loaded into the starting gate. A jockey who questions the condition of his or her mount can communicate concerns to the Track veterinarian, who will assess the horse and can communicate a late scratch up until the last moment directly to the track Stewards. A second Track Vet is located on track to observe horses during warmup and assist with any issues on the track.
Post-race exam: After the horses are unsaddled on the track near the Winner’s Circle, the Track veterinarian continues to observe the horses until they are led off the track. Gulfstream Park has water available to cool a horse that might be overheated and hoses are stationed along the route back to the barns in case any over-heating occurs on the walk home as well. Certain horses return to their barns while others, picked out by the Stewards, return immediately to the Detention Barn to await urine and blood testing that will be sent to the state accredited laboratory for full testing. These horses are under the watchful eye of a Florida Division vet until they are released to return back to their barns with their grooms and stable staff members.
Veterinarians’ List: The Track veterinarian maintains an ongoing hard-copy and digital record of horses that are ineligible to enter a race as a result of illness, injury, unsoundness or other medical condition. Horses are only released from this list by authorization of the Track veterinarian and consulting private veterinarians as well in some cases. Some conditions, like unsoundness, require a timed workout in front of the Track vet and a passing a blood test to be removed from the list. This process provides the veterinarian with more information of a horses overall condition that made its way onto a vet’s list at any time.
On-Site Veterinary Services: