UC Davis’ top vet has his license suspended amid investigation into Kentucky Derby winner’s death
By Steve Large
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DAVIS, Calif. (KOVR) — There’s a glaring hole in the nation’s premier veterinary school: UC Davis. The school’s top equine doctor has had his license suspended and is now on paid administrative leave.
The serene executive at the UC Davis Center for Equine Health is now embroiled in controversy and court documents alleging director Dr. Jeff Blea ‘dispensed dangerous drugs without documented reviews’ before joining the school, while ‘he worked as a highly valued. racetrack veterinarian.
The California Veterinary Medical Board filed the lawsuit against Blea to end his involvement in overseeing the investigation into the death of 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.
The horse was later disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance, then died in December at a Southern California racetrack.
Dr. Blea’s role as Medical Director at UC Davis includes a dual role as Medical Director of the California Horseracing Board, tasked with investigating the cause of Medina Spirit’s death.
The death comes after the state horse racing board instituted changes to the racing industry following a spike in horse deaths in 2019.
Court documents filed by the Veterinary Council alleged “a clear conflict of interest with respondent Blea’s involvement in the drug testing program and investigations”.
Scott Chaney is executive director of the California Horseracing Board and supports Dr. Blea.
“I’m really trying to assume good intention, in humans and state departments,” Chaney said.
We asked Chaney:
“Does it come down to the fact that the veterinary medical board doesn’t like horse racing, and the horse racing board is obviously an advocate for horse racing?”
“Yeah, that’s an interesting question, that’s how it is. I hope that is not the case. I hope the veterinary medical commission is doing its job regulating veterans statewide.
Of course, we do our job in regulating horse racing.
While Dr. Blea’s license is suspended, UC Davis has placed him on paid administrative leave. A spokesperson released a statement saying, “The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is aware that the order suspending Dr. Jeff Blea’s veterinary license has been confirmed and is monitoring the situation as the process continues. judiciary advances.”
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