Cornell University’s veterinary college has announced that it will now establish its own emergency horse center at the site of the former Ruffian Equine Medical Center near Belmont Park Racetrack in Elmont, NY.
The original $18 million facility was built by International Equine Acquisitions Holdings owned by Michael Iavarone, Richard Schiavo and other investors in 2009, with the intention of “filling a void on Long Island for horse owners, both in racing and in the sport horse world,” but was quickly shut down after only a few months.
While it was reported that “the stigma attached to IEAH being the corporate owner of the facility kept some horsemen from sending Thoroughbreds there for treatment or surgery,” the hospital soon became mired with financial problems, made worse after the Hempstead Industrial Development Agency canceled its agreement to provide significant tax breaks for the corporation after IEAH failed to make a semiannual payment of $21,000.
The new facility, to be called Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialists is expected to open April 1, 2014, and will offer elective specialty services to horses referred by attending veterinarians. However, it is expected to be able to provide full emergency and critical care including state-of-the art surgery, imaging, diagnostic and rehabilitation by Cornell vets and technicians by the spring of 2015.
“We are looking forward to joining the well-established horse racing and sport horse communities in the area, adding value to veterinarians, trainers and owners in the region and supporting the critical equine industry in New York State,” proclaimed Cornell’s dean of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Michael Kotlikoff.
Note: The Hospital is named in honor of the late great filly Ruffian (April17, 1972-July 7, 1975). Nicknamed “Queen of the Fillies” after winning the 1974 Eclipse Award as Outstanding, she was ranked among the top U.S. racehorses of the 20th century by The Blood-Horse magazine.
Sired by Bold Ruler (who also sired Secretariat) out of the Native Dancer mare Shenanigans, Ruffian was undefeated in her first ten races, winning them by an average of 8-1/2 lengths. In fact, she won her maiden race by 15 lengths, and was on the lead at every point of call in all her races, including the match race against Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure, before breaking down when both sesamoid bones in her right foreleg snapped. Despite desperate effortd by her jockey JacintoVasquez who tried to pull her up, she refused to stop and ended up pulverizing the bones, which ripped the skin of her fetlock and tore her ligaments until her hoof was flopping uselessly.
Although veterinarians worked for over three hours to repair the damage, Ruffian awoke from the anesthetic with her full fighting spirit in tact, and ended up smashing her casts, forcing them to finally put her down.