Dr. Jeff Blea

Amended Accusations Set Ball Rolling Towards Blea Hearing

In an amended accusation, the California Veterinary Medical Board has revised its original set of complaints leveled against California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) equine medical director, Jeff Blea. The additional information, however, mostly "fine-tunes" what was included in the original accusation against Blea and doesn't change the "big picture," said George Wallace, Blea's attorney. According to various leading veterinary medical experts, that big picture is one largely of lax record keeping. What the amended accusation does, however, is set the ball rolling on a rough time-table leading to a full...

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Blea's Interim Suspension Hearing Plays Out

In the formal hearing Friday morning of the Veterinary Medical Board's petition for an interim suspension of California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) equine medical director Jeff Blea's medical license, both sides laid out their arguments. In short, the deputy attorney general Elaine Yan representing the veterinary board took a procedural defense of the petition, arguing that the allegations against Blea amount to violations of standards of practice within the veterinary community as codified in the veterinary medicine practice act. "These guidelines emphasize the importance of examinations and diagnosis," said Yan,...

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Equine Medical Director Blea Placed on Administrative Leave by UC Davis

Jeff Blea, California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) equine medical director, has been placed on administrative leave by UC Davis pending a formal review of his veterinary license, according to Blea's attorney, George Wallace. The story was first reported by the Los Angeles Times. The California Veterinary Medical Board last week announced that an emergency hearing had resulted in an interim suspension of Blea's veterinary license for a number of alleged offenses, including purportedly administering "dangerous drugs" to racehorses without a prior examination, without forming a diagnosis and without medical necessity....

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Blea Suspension: Medical Necessity Or Political Theater

Given Jeff Blea's high-profile position as equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), news last week that the California Veterinary Medical Board had issued an interim suspension of his veterinary license set the latest alarm bells clanging across the industry. Certainly, the accusations leveled against Blea appear a damning indictment of his veterinary bona-fides. According to the veterinary board, Blea presents a "danger to public health, safety and welfare," due to his oversight of the investigation into the death of the Bob Baffert-trained Medina Spirit (Protonico), the...

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CHRB Responds to VMB Suspension of Dr. Blea

In response to the actions brought by the California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) against Dr. Jeff Blea, Equine Medical Director, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) issued a statement Thursday morning regarding the interim suspension order of his license. The investigation into the death of GI Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit (Protonico) will now be headed by the executive associate dean of UC Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine. "Given the sensitive and very public nature of the necropsy and resulting investigation into the death of Medina Spirit, and in keeping...

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Medina Spirit's Necropsy 'Currently Underway'

Medina Spirit's necropsy is "currently underway" and a report on last week's sudden death of the GI Kentucky Derby winner is expected to be publicly released by mid-February, California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) equine medical director Dr. Jeff Blea said Wednesday. "Completion of sudden death case file reports takes weeks and months to complete due to the in-depth level of analysis involved, and we fully expect a final report in this case in approximately two months," Blea told commissioners at the Dec. 15 CHRB meeting. "Tissue samples and specimens will...

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They Ran a Lasix Free Breeders' Cup…And Nothing Happened

The biggest story when it comes to the ban of Lasix in the Breeders' Cup is that there was no story. It was, simply, a non-factor. A total of 148 horses competed in this year's Breeders' Cup, all of them running Lasix-free. There were no reports of any horses being in distress or bleeding from the nostrils. I did not hear of one trainer blaming a defeat on the ban of the diuretic. Nor did I hear of or read about any trainers saying they were passing the Breeders' Cup...

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Safety Initiatives Paying Off in California

Edited Press Release The state of California has seen a 50% decline in equine fatalities over the last two fiscal years, owing to steps taken by the industry to increase safety at the state's racetracks. In fiscal year 2018-2019, a total of 144 horses died from racing or training injuries or other causes while stabled at CHRB facilities. The number dropped to 72 in fiscal year 2020-2021. According to information provided by the California Horse Racing Board, equine fatalities have been trending downward since 2005, but the last fiscal year...

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Dr. Rick Arthur Q&A: Part Two

After 15 years as California's equine medical director, Dr. Rick Arthur has stepped away from the post. A vocal proponent of tightened welfare practices in the sport, Arthur has spearheaded during his tenure a slew of equine safety reforms that have made California arguably the most stringent regulatory environment in the States. Arthur's forthrightness, however, has led to him staking out positions that have at times proven polarizing. The day after Arthur officially stepped down, he conducted a Q&A with the TDN, the first part of which can be seen...

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