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VMRCVM pledges support

By Jeff Douglas

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 09 - October 20, 1994

Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) officials say they look forward to assisting in the development of the commonwealth's pari-mutuel racing industry, now that the Virginia Racing Commission has awarded the charter license.

The regional veterinary college, with major facilities located at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and the University of Maryland at College Park, also operates the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center at Morven Park, one of the nation's most distinguished equine hospitals.

"Our college is uniquely positioned to serve as a resource for Virginia's new racing industry, both directly and indirectly," said VMRCVM Dean Peter Eyre. "As one of the nation's 27 veterinary colleges we can provide a valuable combination of teaching, research, and clinical services."

Eyre said the college's contributions to the racing industry might come in many forms, including the provision of continuing-education programs for equine veterinarians, emergency and routine medical and surgical services, and equine research.

Researchers on the Blacksburg and Leesburg campuses are currently investigating 32 different equine research projects funded with almost $1 million in internal and extramural support.

These programs range from basic programs intended to learn more about the basic biology of the horse to clinical programs which attempt to perfect medical and surgical procedures for dealing with disease and trauma.

On the Leesburg Campus, a facility endowed by one of racing's most famous equestrians, the late Marion duPont Scott, faculty members have been working closely with leaders of the racing industry for almost a decade.

"While we are committed to meeting the health needs of all breeds of pleasure and sporting animals, we are uniquely equipped to deal with the specialized needs of performance horses," said Equine Medical Center Director G. Frederick Fregin.

In addition to operating one of the nation's leading research and clinical programs in equine colic, the leading killer of horses, board-certified surgeons and interns in the center possess advanced diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities in dealing with performance problems like upper-airway problems and lamenesses.

The 68,000-square-foot-facility includes a radiographic suite with nuclear and non-invasive imaging capabilities, twin surgeries for conventional and laser procedures, fiberoptic equipment for performing arthroscopies and gastrointestinal procedures, intensive care facilities and in-hospital holding space for 28 animals.

Veterinary colleges in many states have formed cooperative relationships with state racing commissions that provide a portion of the annual racing handle for equine research and other educational activities which in turn help advance the industry.

Eyre and Fregin are hopeful that a similar arrangement might be created in Virginia.

The Virginia Racing Commission announced recently that a site in New Kent County had been selected for the state's first race track.