Top UC Davis veterinarian has license suspended amid Kentucky Derby winner death investigation – KION546

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By Steve Large

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DAVIS, Calif. (KOVR) — There is a glaring hole at the number one veterinary school in the country: UC Davis. The top horse doctor at the school has had his license suspended and is now on paid administrative leave.

The serene setting at the UC Davis Center for Equine Health is now saddled with controversy and court documents, alleging the director, Dr. Jeff Blea, “Dispensed dangerous drugs without documented examinations” before he joined the school, when he worked as a highly regarded horse track veterinarian.

The California Veterinary Medical Board filed the complaint against Blea in order to stop his involvement overseeing the death investigation of 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.

The horse was subsequently 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 position as the medical director for the California Horseracing Board, charged with investigating Medina Spirit’s cause of death.

The death comes after the state horseracing board instituted changes to the racing industry following a spike in horses dying in 2019.

Court documents filed by the Veterinary Board 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 really try to assume good intent, in humans and state departments,” Chaney said.

We asked Chaney:

“Does it come down to the fact that the vet medical board doesn’t like horseracing, and the horseracing board is obviously an advocate for horseracing?”

Chaney answered:

“Yeah, that’s an interesting question, it feels that way. I hope that’s not the case. I trust that the vet medical board is doing their jobs regulating veterans around the state.

We of course do our job regulating horse racing.”

while dr Blea’s license is suspended, UC Davis has placed him on paid administrative leave. A spokesperson issued a statement reading, “The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is aware of the order of suspension of Dr. Jeff Blea’s veterinary license has been upheld and is monitoring the situation as the legal process moves forward.”

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