Two New Equine Clinics to be Added to Belmont Park

Belmont Park horsemen will soon have more options available for intensive equine medical care if plans involving two clinics come to fruition in the next year or so.

IEAH Corp. and owners of the New York Equine Hospital have separately announced plans for new facilities to be located on neighboring Plainfield Avenue properties bordering the east side of the Elmont, N.Y., track.

Plans for the IEAH facility, which were unveiled in a press conference at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 24, call for a $7-million overhaul of the former Stanley Penn & Sons Feed location. Proposed services in the new 11,500-square-foot building include a surgical facility, computerized radiography, ultrasound console unit, hematology/urology lab, pharmacy, treadmill endoscopy evaluation, indoor recovery stalls, a nuclear scintigraphy unit, closed circuit procedural monitoring, and mobile radiograhics, among others.

Heading up the medical team for the new facility, which is tentatively titled Equine Medical Center at Belmont Park, are noted veterinarians James Hunt and Patricia Hogan.

"Dr. Hunt and Dr. Hogan will own the practice and have full control," said Richard Schiavo, who, along with business partner Michael Iavarone, co-owns IEAH. "We just provide the financial backing. IEAH Corp. is strictly the financial wing of the facility."

Hunt is already currently involved in the care of an estimated 1,200 horses on the Belmont backstretch.

"Mike and Rich had been shipping their horses long distances for surgeries, and they contacted me over a period of time and got me involved in this," Hunt said of the IEAH owners, who race horses privately and in IEAH Stable partnerships. "Right now, I sit atop a very large racetrack practice, based primarily just on service. One thing I was not able to provide was a surgical service, and that's why I became involved in this project."

Tabbed as chief surgeon, Hogan, who is best known for her work on equine stars such as Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex, plans to continue work at the New Jersey Equine Clinic in Clarksburg, N.J., and commute to the new Belmont location.

"This will provide me with new and exciting opportunities," Hogan said. "I will be able to do bone scans and treadmill, which is something I've always wanted to do. We will also have our eye on the rest of Long Island, which has a large horse population."

William Valentino, a surgeon who owns the New York Equine Hospital with his wife, Lorie, a veterinarian specializing in internal medicine, said he has presented plans to local government officials for a $3-million renovation of their current 3,700-square-foot building. The property was previously best known as the clinic belonging to the late veterinarian William O. Reed, who was a fixture on the New York racing scene for decades.

"We'll have almost 10,000-square-feet under roof by the time we are done," said Valentino, who has operated the hospital for about three years.

Proposed new services for the hospital will include magnetic resonance imaging, bone scans, separate diagnostic center, 10 stalls, and a standing surgery center, among others.

Valentino said he was unaware of the IEAH plans until they were announced, but is pragmatic about his future neighbor.

"If it improves the quality of care for the horses at the racetrack, that can only be a positive," he said. "It will get the racetrack up to the 21st century in regards to technology."

Among the horsemen looking forward to the facilities is veteran trainer H. Allen Jerkens, who has stabled at Belmont since the early 1960s.

"It will be a plus--there is nothing better than having something right there when you need to have stuff done right away," Jerkens said.

Fellow trainer John Kimmel, who once practiced as a veterinarian, put a different twist on the potential new additions to the local equine medical community.

"Competition is not a bad thing," he said.

Belmont horsemen have also had the services of surgeon Stephen Selway, who operates the Equine Surgical Clinic. Selway's facility is perhaps best known in recent memory as the surgery center for 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Charismatic, who suffered a career-ending injury while finishing third in the Belmont Stakes.

Selway did not return a call from The Blood-Horse seeking comments.

--Ryan T. Conley and Steve Haskin

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