Scott Palmer appointed as New York's first equine veterinary medical director


Position created to ensure ethical standards and safety in state?s horse racing industry.

The management of equine health, safety and welfare of horses at New York thoroughbred and standardbred racetracks will now fall to the state’s first equine veterinary medical director, Scott E. Palmer, VMD. Announced Jan. 13 after a nearly yearlong international search, the appointment is part of the state’s ongoing commitment to improve New York’s racing industry, officials say.

Palmer will not only oversee the well-being of the state’s equine athletes but is tasked with advising the New York State Gaming Commission on medication policies and the safety and conditions of racetrack facilities and surfaces. He will supervise all on-track regulatory veterinarians as well as the New York State Equine Drug Testing Program laboratory. He will oversee equine testing procedures, ensure compliance with regulatory veterinary protocols, investigate incidents and monitor the commission’s necropsy program.

Palmer’s position is a product of the New York Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety, of which Palmer was chair. The task force was established by Gov. Andrew Cuomo after the 2011 Aqueduct Race Track winter meet in Ozone Park, N.Y., during which 21 horses died or were euthanized—most deaths due to musculokeltal injuries. As a result, the task force recommended the creation of a state equine veterinary medical director to ensure the highest ethical standards in New York racing.

“We are honored to have Dr. Palmer on the team,” says Robert Williams, acting executive director of the gaming commission. “His decades of work creating critical health and safety improvements in horse racing are well recognized and make him the ideal candidate to bring important equine safety measures to life at all New York state tracks. Dr. Palmer is an outstanding veterinarian and a consummate professional and we look forward to working with him.”

Michael I. Kotlikoff, the Austin O. Hooey dean of veterinary medicine at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, praised Palmer’s appointment as well. As New York’s equine medical director, Palmer will also serve as an adjunct professor at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where he will be responsible for developing and coordinating continuing education programs for veterinarians and trainers related to medication and equine injuries. He will coordinate research on equine sports medicine topics and collaborate with faculty on epidemiological studies to analyze equine safety issues.

Palmer is a 1976 graduate from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. For more than 30 years he has practiced equine veterinary medicine in New Jersey at the New Jersey Equine Clinic, serving as its hospital director since 1997. He is a two-time recipient of the New Jersey Equine Practitioners Veterinarian of the Year award, as well as a recipient of the Association of American Equine Practitioners (AAEP) President’s Award in 2009 and the AAEP Distinguished Service Award in 2010.

“I am honored to join the commission and to help bolster New York’s ongoing commitment to equine health and safety,” Palmer says. “Having a sole veterinary point of contact overseeing all New York racehorses and having access to Cornell’s array of resources is simply smart policy. I am eager to get to work, and I look forward to working with our partners to create as safe an environment as possible for our horses.”

Palmer serves as a board member for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance Advisory Board and the Thoroughbred Charities of America. He previously served on the Association of Racing Commissioners International Special Task Force on Medication and chaired the International Summit on Race Day Medication, as well as the Ad-Hoc Racing Medication and Testing Consortium Committee on Race Day Security. He also served two terms as a member of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Advisory Committee.

Lawrence R. Bramlage, DVM, partner and equine orthopedic surgeon at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital located in Lexington, Ky., says, “Dr. Palmer is a widely respected and talented veterinarian who has broad experience on the backside, as a surgeon and as a member of numerous committees and task forces on racing. He will be a real champion for New York’s racehorses. His record as a racing advocate and in equine practice speaks for itself and I congratulate him on his new position, as well as New York state for bringing him on board.”

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