THE STRONACH GROUP SECURES CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY FOR ON-SITE EQUINE HOSPITAL AT SANTA ANITA PARK
MACHINE WILL AID IN DETECTION OF PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS IN RACE HORSES
ARCADIA, CA – As a part of its ongoing commitment to modernize the sport of horse racing and to promote the health and safety of the equine athletes to the highest possible standards, The Stronach Group has invested $500,000 to support the purchase of the cutting-edge Longmile Positron Emission Tomography (MILE-PET) Scan machine that provides imaging of the fetlock (ankle) joint while a Thoroughbred is standing. This machine will be available at Santa Anita Park at the Southern California Equine Foundation’s Equine Hospital in Santa Anita’s Barn area.
“The Stronach Group’s funding of this ground-breaking technology represents an important investment that will aid in the detection of equine injuries on a microscopic level to flag pre-existing conditions that can contribute to breakdowns,” said Dr. Dionne Benson, recently appointed Chief Veterinary Officer for The Stronach Group. “This technology will help to identify the injuries that tend to be the most dangerous and are not detectable using the current technology.”
While the PET scan technology has been used in human medicine for more than a decade, it is very rare for horses to undergo a PET scan. The unique MILE-PET machine enables a horse to have a PET scan on their fetlock joint while standing without the risks of general anesthesia. In January 2019, the first MILE-PET scan on a standing horse was successfully performed at UC Davis through a project led by Mathieu Spriet, DVM, along with Brain Biosciences and Longmile Veterinary Imaging division. The Longmile engineering team developed the concept of an openable ring, which allowed scanning other regions of the horse limb, including the fetlocks while a horse is standing so as to avoid sedation.
In an effort to increase and improve access to this technology for horsemen, The Stronach Group has partnered with the Dolly Green Research Foundation (DRGF) to secure the purchase of the innovative MILE-PET Scan machine. DGRF, founded in 1984 by Ms. Green, a longtime horse owner with a special interest in equine research, is affiliated with the Southern California Equine Foundation. DGRF is committed to advancing the health and welfare of Thoroughbred racehorses with an emphasis on research. This newly donated MILE-PET system will first go to the Center of Equine Health at the University of California – Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine for validation, research and continued analysis. After completion of the validation period at UC Davis, the MILE-PET will be available for use at Santa Anita this fall. This timeframe should coincide with the track hosting the Breeders’ Cup for a record 10th time.
“The Stronach Group is committed to providing horse owners and trainers with access to state-of-the-art technology that will make a significant difference to the health and safety of our horses and riders,” said Belinda Stronach, Chairman and President. “Our goal is to make every resource available to aid horsemen in determining the fitness of their horses for racing and training. We’re excited to be partnering with the Dolly Green Research Foundation and UC Davis to bring the MILE-PET to the equine hospital, located right here at Santa Anita.”
“PET devices promise the sort of breakthrough we have been looking for in detecting and understanding pre-existing bone injury,” said Craig Fravel, President of the Dolly Green Research Foundation. “We are most grateful to The Stronach Group in making this work possible and providing the necessary funding to allow the Southern California Equine Foundation to acquire this amazing technology for the health of our horses and our industry.”
“This is the most exciting development in equine imaging since standing MRI in the early 2000,” said Dr. Mathieu Spieret, an Associate Professor at UC Davis who has been the Principle Investigator for the project. “The development of the standing equine PET scanner will change the diagnostic approach to fetlock remodeling in racehorses, and too many other areas of equine imaging.”
“You cannot overstate how significant an advancement this is in equine diagnostic imaging and it is a natural fit here in California,” said Dr. Rick Arthur, Equine Medical Director for the California Horse Racing Board. “PET is an advanced nuclear imaging technique and Santa Anita is already the home of the Dolly Green Nuclear Scintigraphy facility, which was the first of its kind when it was installed. We thank everyone involved for making this investment to further the safety of our equine athletes.”