The American Association of Equine Practitioners created the On-Call program 11 years ago to assist media in understanding injuries and treatment of horses before, during, and after upper-echelon equine events. Most of the 70 events covered by On-Call veterinarians last year were Thoroughbred races, with some Standardbred and Quarter Horse events included.
This year's AAEP On-Call Derby team is headed by veteran Dr. Larry Bramlage, a surgery specialist with the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. He will be assisted by Dr. Celeste Kunz of New York and several support staff from the AAEP. Bramlage will be available to answer questions from the NBC anchor during all the races on Oaks and Derby Days, and Kunz will be on the backside to relay information on horses.
The AAEP has "media trained" 40 veterinarians to be able to help print, audio, and broadcast media during equine events. Some practitioners, such as Bramlage, will work several top events each year.
Asked if there were any special health concerns coming up to this year's Derby, Bramlage said, "The track conditions are always a concern. Last year (Churchill Downs) track was very fast, but it wasn't a problem (to the horses). It varies from year to year. We have the same concerns for any big field with bumping and injuries. But the Derby has always been a clean race; the horses are young and fresh and they don't have the chronic accumulation of aches and pains like we worry about at the end of the (racing) season."--Kimberly S. Graetz