Rachel Blount writes about a wide variety of sports subjects, including Olympic sports, women's sports and social issues that intersect with the games we watch and play. She has been at the Star Tribune for 20 years, covering everything from hockey to horse racing to seven Olympic Games. An Iowa native, she holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Missouri and is married to fellow sportswriter Pat Borzi.

Posts about Horse racing

More on Racing Commission investigations

Posted by: Rachel Blount Updated: October 16, 2012 - 7:53 PM

Dr. Lynn Hovda, chief veterinarian for the Minnesota Racing Commission, issued a statement Tuesday through attorney Roberta Brackman describing the reason she is being investigated by the Minnesota Management and Budget Office. The story is posted online. Here are more details from Hovda's statement, which reveal that she is being investigated because of a veterinary decision she made--and not because of any corruption or illegal activity.

Hovda was asked not to discuss the investigation, but she decided to make details public Tuesday because news of the investigation had leaked. She was concerned that her reputation was at stake if it were known simply that she was being investigated, without any explanation as to why. Here is her story:

On July 4, 2012 at Canterbury Race Track, a day on which racing had been cancelled due to heat index numbers over 100, a trailer carrying 4 horses arrived at Canterbury from Texas, in a manner not ever experienced by the Canterbury staff: The horse trailer was attached to a pickup truck and both the truck and trailer were sitting atop a flatbed trailer being hauled by a semi –not due to any breakdown or malfunction of the truck or horse trailer –it was deliberately hauled in that manner. The semi had no appropriate place to unload the horse trailer and truck and thus the horses were “stranded” in the trailer, in the 100+ degree heat, while Canterbury staff tried to figure out how to unload the trailer to get the horses off to safety. After staff called Dr. Hovda to the track, Dr. Hovda and two other MRC Veterinarians determined that the horses were showing signs of distress, having been on the trailer in that heat for about 23‐25 hours. And not knowing how long they would have to remain in the hot trailer, and after getting permission from the groom who had arrived with the horses, they treated the horses with a medication called Banamine, a non-steroidal anti‐inflammatory drug to help prevent or mitigate the negative impact on the horses of the heat and duration of their trip. An hour or so later, the Canterbury staff was able to
get the horses unloaded safely and they were treated by the trainer’s veterinarian. Since that day Dr. Hovda has spoken with several well­‐known and knowledgeable equine veterinarians, all of whom agreed that Dr. Hovda’s treatment of the horses on July 4 was not only appropriate under the circumstances but also necessary to protect the horses. Among those
Dr. Hovda consulted were Dr. Kim Voller, Anoka Equine Veterinary Services, Dr. John King, Executive Director of the Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Brad Gordon, Minnesota Racing Commission Track Veterinarian prior to
Dr. Hovda’s tenure at the Commission which began in 1995. The investigator retained by MM&B, Mr. William Everett of the
firm of Everett & Vanderwiel, interviewed Dr. Hovda on September 10. Dr. Hovda explained at great length that her treatment of the horses confined to the trailer in the heat on that afternoon with Banamine was not only necessary and
appropriate to their condition, but was also done only after she and Commission Veterinarian Jacquie Rich got permission
from the horses’ groom.

 

 

Hovda said in her statement that after the Sept. 10 interview, she was told that the fact-finding was complete, and that the investigator would prepare a report for the racing commission to review. That was the last she heard of it. She is asking the commission to release and confirm the facts of the investigation in order to prevent speculation that could damage her reputation.

The statement also points out that it is not uncommon for horse owners or trainers to disagree with decisions made by Hovda, whose job is to oversee the health and well-being of the horses racing at Canterbury. They want their horses to race, so they sometimes protest veterinarians' rulings that would prevent that from happening. As Hovda notes, those disagreements usually are resolved internally and not through a formal investigation. 

Hovda also stated that she consulted with racing commission executive director Richard Krueger and Canterbury Park President Randy Sampson about the incident. Sampson said Tuesday that Hovda called him afterward to inform him about what happened, and he thanked her for her assistance in resolving the situation with no harm to the horses.

 

 

      

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