Jeff Blea

CHRB On Santa Anita Turf: 'Back To Normal And Safe'

On the day before racing at Santa Anita is scheduled to resume Friday with five turf races following an 11-day break that had been planned before recent grass-course drainage issues arose, staffers with the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) deemed the turf to be ready to handle horses. The last two dates that Santa Anita had raced, Apr. 8 and 9, a total of five turf races had to be swapped from the "firm" grass course to the "fast" main dirt track because of slippage problems on the far turn....

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Does HISA Remedy CHRB, VMB Turf War?

The ongoing stand-off between California's Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) and the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) has amounted to a regulatory turf war over California's backstretch veterinarians. So far, the state's VMB has flexed its primacy, issuing dozens of records requests and, in a number of instances, complaints against vets within this colony. The highest profile such case concerned a settlement last year with CHRB equine medical director, Jeff Blea. In that settlement, the VMB issued Blea a fine of more than $130,000, required him to undergo continuing education classes...

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Ferndale Loses Fight in CHRB Race Dates Disagreement

Months of contentious jockeying over whether Ferndale (Humboldt County Fair) should run its second of two weeks of racing at the end of August un-overlapped with its Northern California compatriot, Golden Gate Fields (GGF), ended in defeat for the small rural track. In a 5-1 vote during Thursday's California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) meeting, the board decided that during the week running Aug. 23 to Aug. 29, Humboldt and GGF would field simultaneous race meets. Ferndale will run the first of two scheduled weeks of racing this year, from Aug....

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Decorated My Life Video Triggers Talk of Veterinary Scrutiny Modification

Following Decorated My Life (Mehmas {Ire})'s catastrophic injury in Saturday's Sweet Life S. at Santa Anita, a 15-second video clip shared on social media that appears to show the 3-year-old filly slightly off on her right-front as she jogged to the start of the race has spurred talk of modification to the layers of pre-race veterinary scrutiny for horses that run on the track's downhill turf course. A regulatory veterinarian is present to watch horses warm up on the level before they head up the hill—on which the Sweet Life...

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Arthur Accuses Vet Med Board of 'Regulatory Extortion'

At the quarterly California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) meeting Wednesday, the board acknowledged that yawning practical and philosophical differences between the agency and the state's equine practitioners urgently need to be addressed. According to Richard Sullivan, chair of the VMB's Multidisciplinary Advisory Committee, this disconnect concerns approaches to record keeping and the Veterinary-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR), calling efforts to bridge this divide as "a huge task, but a very necessary one." During the public comment period at the start of the meeting, former California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) equine medical director...

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Blea to Return As California Equine Medical Director Sept. 21

Jeff Blea, on administrative leave from his post as California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) equine medical director since early January after the California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) successfully petitioned to have his license temporarily suspended, is set to officially return to the position Sept. 21 having reached a settlement with the VMB, according to Michael Casey, Blea's attorney. As a condition of the settlement, Blea is required to undergo continuing education classes in record keeping, Casey said. Blea will also be on a three-year probationary period. "If you look at...

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Stay Denied on Interim Suspension of Blea's Vet License

A hearing in the Los Angeles County Superior Court Wednesday morning resulted in a denial of sidelined California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) equine medical director Jeff Blea's request to stay the California Veterinary Medical Board's interim suspension of his veterinary license, meaning that the California horse racing industry continues to operate without its chief veterinarian at least for the near future. According to George Wallace, Blea's attorney, Judge James Chalfant was not persuaded by the argument that Blea and the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) would suffer irreparable harm if...

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Wednesday Hearing on Stay of Blea Suspension

California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) equine medical director Jeff Blea, sidelined from that role since early January, is headed to Los Angeles County Superior Court Wednesday, seeking a stay on the California Veterinary Medical Board's interim suspension of his veterinary license. If the court doesn't grant a stay on the interim suspension--pending a formal hearing on the merits of the veterinary board's accusations against him--Blea asks the court to determine whether in the interim he can resume his duties as equine medical director and as a member of the Anti-Doping...

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Blea Seeks California Superior Court Relief From Suspension

Sidelined California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) equine medical director Jeff Blea has filed a writ of mandate with the California Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles seeking to lift the California Veterinary Medical Board's interim suspension on his veterinary license. The court filing, dated Feb. 24, also seeks declarative and injunctive relief, arguing that the position of equine medical director does not require an active license, and that Blea, UC Davis and the CHRB will continue to suffer "irreparable harm" if California horse racing's head veterinarian remains unable...

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Blea's Vet License Remains Suspended, Per Judge

The veterinary license of California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) equine medical director, Jeff Blea, remains suspended pending a full administrative hearing, according to a ruling by administrative law judge Nana Chin. In a 15-page document dated Friday, Jan. 28 but posted to the Veterinary Medical Board's website Wednesday, Chin wrote that despite Blea not currently practicing veterinary medicine, this still "does not ensure" public safety. "As long as Respondent's license to practice is active, he is free to return to the practice of veterinary medicine at any time. Permitting Respondent...

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CHRB Backs Blea Ahead of 'Dangerousness' Hearing

Three members of the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), plus the agency's executive director, on Thursday advocated for the reinstatement of temporarily suspended CHRB equine medical director Jeff Blea on the eve of his hearing before the California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) to rule on a list of allegations that include administering "dangerous drugs" to racehorses without examination or medical necessity. "For my own two cents as chairman, I think that the issues surrounding Dr. Jeff Blea brought forth by the veterinary medical board are both ill-advised and slanderous," said...

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Beem Talks Racecalling, Anxiety, on Writers' Room

Jason Beem was just 23 years old when he had his first panic attack, but remembers it in excruciating detail to this day. "I was in law school at Gonzaga University. I was in constitutional law class and I didn't know what it was and walked out of class and freaked out in the hallway." That episode was the beginning of over a decade-and-a-half struggle with anxiety and depression that caused him to leave racing for a period, and be hospitalized several times. The popular racecaller and podcast host talks...

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