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Thursday, May 28, 2009

New equine medical center opens at Belmont Park

NEW YORK (AP)—An $18 million equine hospital named for the superstar filly Ruffian has opened near Belmont Park, and will specialize in diagnostics and orthopedic surgery for horses of all breeds and disciplines.

Before the Ruffian Equine Medical Center opened, horses that required evaluation or surgery were usually shipped three hours away to the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, or five hours to Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

The medical practice will be led by Dr. James Hunt and chief surgeon Dr. Patricia Hogan, but will have an open-door policy for outside surgeons and specialists.

“It’s overdue considering the population of horses in the area,” Hunt said in a statement issued Tuesday. “We’re thrilled to be able to provide the best services we can to the horse owners, their trainers and their veterinarians.”

The 22,000-square-foot facility includes two surgery suites, three recovery stalls, a high-speed treadmill, a full-service laboratory, three climate-controlled stalls and 26 standard stalls in the barn just off the backstretch at Belmont Park.

The medical center was designed and funded by International Equine Acquisitions Holdings, the company that owned last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown.

“Now that the facility is finished, IEAH is a landlord and the operation of the hospital and the veterinary practice rests exclusively with Doctors Hunt and Hogan and their professional staff, and we wish them the best of luck,” IEAH co-president Richard Schiavo said.

IEAH began considering the equine facility in 2003 and broke ground two years ago, near the home of the Belmont Stakes and a short drive from Aqueduct. More than 2,500 horses are regularly stabled between the two Long Island tracks.

The facility was named for Ruffian, who won her first 10 races before breaking down in a 1975 match race with Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure at Belmont Park. The filly is buried near a flag pole in the track’s infield.

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