William E. Farmer, DVM will assume duties as the new Equine Medical Director (EMD), Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) announced on Wednesday. The position that will oversee equine safety and care at all CDI racetracks. Dr. Farmer comes to CDI after serving as the official veterinarian for the California Horse Racing Board and out-of-competition coordinator and consulting veterinarian for Breeders’ Cup Ltd.
CDI revealed the development of this position ahead of the 2019 Kentucky Derby along with additional new significant safety initiatives. A months-long candidate search resulted in the appointment of Dr. Farmer. As EMD, Dr. Farmer will develop, direct the implementation of, and ensure enforcement of equine health and safety policies for CDI.
He will oversee the following CDI racetracks: Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky; Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Illinois; Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans; Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pennsylvania; Ocean Downs in Ocean City, Maryland; Miami Valley Gaming in Lebanon, Ohio; Oak Grove Racing in Oak Grove, Kentucky; and Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky.
Dr. Farmer brings a rich history of experience with racehorses to the position and a wealth of industry knowledge. Following his work as Racing Veterinarian with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, he ascended to the position of Chief Racing Veterinarian and thus worked extensively in managerial and hands-on capacities, both long-term and urgent, at racing events and institutions, including multiple races for the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup championships.
“Churchill Downs is excited to welcome the experience and proven leadership that Dr. Farmer brings to our company,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of CDI. “He will be an integral part of our strong and ongoing commitment to equine and jockey safety.”
The hiring of Dr. Farmer coincides with CDI joining the nation’s leading Thoroughbred racing organizations last week to announce the launch of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, a collective industry effort to unify and enhance existing protections and work together to develop reforms to ensure safety is paramount to the sport of horseracing.
“I am honored to be joining the CDI team,” Dr. Farmer said. “For many years, CDI has led the way in safety initiatives to help protect both our equine and human athletes. I look forward to working side-by-side with the KHRC, private practitioners, trainers and other industry stakeholders in continuing to lead the way and raising the bar in regards to safety and welfare of our athletes.”
Churchill Downs Racetrack is moving forward on an $8 million backside expansion to include a state-of-the-art Equine Medical Center, quarantine facility and new backside Stable Gate.
The upgrades, scheduled to open in March 2020, are focused primarily on the care, wellness and safety of racehorses in a way that will reinforce the historic racetrack’s place as one of the preeminent tracks in the country.