From the Thoroughbred Club of America
Pioneering equine veterinary practitioner Dr. Robert Copelan has been named the Honor Guest of the Thoroughbred Club of America’s 76th annual testimonial dinner, club president Mike Barnett announced Aug. 31.
Copelan, who will be honored at the event at Keeneland Nov. 2, was elected by the Thoroughbred Club board of directors.
Copelan was one of the founding members of the American Association of Equine Practitioners in 1954. He served as its president in 1973 and continued to participate on multiple AAEP committees throughout the years.
He was one of the pioneers of equine joint surgery in the -960s at his hospital in Paris, Ky., at Sunnyside Farm, which he owns in partnership with John Thornbury.
Even before Copelan graduated from the Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1953, he had begun to make a mark in racing. He was involved with breaking the 1952 Kentucky Derby winner, Hill Gail, while working as an exercise rider at Calumet Farm.
Copelan became a racetrack practitioner following graduation, traveling regularly among tracks in Florida, Kentucky, and Illinois. Among the many distinguished horses entrusted to Copelan at Sunnyside was Susan’s Girl, who after surgery went on to become the first of her sex raced exclusively in this country to earn $1 million.
In addition to his veterinary work, Copelan for a time was involved with yearling selection for Keeneland sales, and as an adviser played a role in the emergence of the late W.T. Young’s Overbrook Farm racing and breeding program.
He has long taken active roles issues regarding Thoroughbred racing and recently was a member of the Related Medications Committee of the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council. Copelan was recognized with the OSU Distinguished Alumni Award in 1978 and was named honor guest of the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners in 2000.
He is still an active practitioner.