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The Track's Most Important Person

Published: September 16, 2014 9:51 am ET

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The most important job at Grand River Raceway in Elora may just belong to track veterinarian Dr. Pat Meyers.

“Essentially, you’re looking after the welfare of the horse, but in addition to that you’re also making sure the betting public is not betting on any lame horses," said Meyers, 59, who has been the track vet at Grand River Raceway since the track opened in 2003. Before that he was the vet at Elmira Raceway and Hanover Raceway going back to 1998.

On a wet Wednesday night, Meyers was busy carefully watching a group of three-year-old pacing fillies warm up for an Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Grassroots event that was subsequently postponed due to the monsoon causing unsafe track conditions. The vet said one of his jobs on race nights is to watch every horse warm up.

“You’re looking for any possible signs of lameness,” he said. “Then if you have one that is slightly off, you go and talk to the trainer and make sure that he’s not racing a horse that’s going to be lame.”

Meyers is also on hand to help horses injured while racing.

“Usually if there is an accident on the track you have to make sure you take care of any horses that are injured at least from a remedial standpoint or from a first aid standpoint,” he said.

After races, Meyers also helps trainers determine why a horse may not have raced well by inserting a small camera called an endoscope into a horse’s air passage to check their lungs.

He also helps out, when necessary, to take blood samples of horses for testing. Though Meyers isn’t in charge of the testing protocol, racehorses in Ontario undergo some of the strictest pre- and post-race testing in the world for performance enhancing drugs.

“The only time I get involved in any of those things is, for instance, if a person has difficulty taking a blood sample from a particular horse, then I would go and assist or at the end of the night if there’s no veterinary technician to take blood,” Meyers said. “So, I’m not intimately involved in it, but I do on the periphery.”

Other than the small number of times he’s had to deal with a catastrophic injury to a horse in his 26 years as a track vet, Meyers said he enjoys his work and being at Grand River Raceway.

“The job is pretty fun because you get to talk to a lot of interesting people at the track and find out what’s going on in the industry,” he said.

Meyers, who runs Emerald Ridge Farm in Rockwood, Ont. with his wife, Anna, hasn’t bred any horses the last two years, but he’s been in the breeding business for a long time. He said the horse that changed his life was Emerald Whisper, an Earl mare out of Royal Design he produced with Terry Devos.

“She made about $180,000 for us as a two- and three-year-old and she almost won the (OSS) Grassroots Final for two-year-old trotting fillies (in 2007). That was the one that changed it for me personally.”

To hear the conversation with Dr. Pat Meyers —- including his pick for the greatest fictional character in history —- check out the Harness Racing Report, produced for Grand River Raceway by award-winning journalist Dave Briggs, by clicking the orange play button below.

(Grand River)


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