Posted: April 24, 2019
Dr. Dionne Benson, who most recently has served as Executive Director and Chief Operating Office of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, has been appointed as the Chief Veterinary Officer for The Stronach Group.
According to an April 23 release from TSG, the creation of the position of Chief Veterinary Officer—originally titled Director of Equine Welfare—was part of enhanced protocols and procedures enacted by the company in March after a series of catastrophic injuries in racing and training at Santa Anita Park. The position will include directing safety and welfare as well as veterinary research initiatives for all TSG facilities: Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields in California, Gulfstream Park in South Florida, and Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course in Maryland.
“We are thrilled to have Dr. Benson join our team,” said Belinda Stronach, TSG Chairman and President. “Dr. Benson has a proven track-record of advocating for the health and safety of racehorses and she is at the forefront of guiding the implementation of racing standards that are grounded in medical science. In this extremely important time of reform and modernization in the Thoroughbred racing industry, Dr. Benson brings both unique expertise and an unparalleled reputation.”
The RMTC, which along with the Association of Racing Commissioners International establishes model rules for horse racing, has not yet announced a replacement for Benson.
Benson also serves on several veterinary committees within the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities and was instrumental in working with the California Horse Racing Board to refine medication rules for horses racing at Santa Anita and Golden Gate. The medication rules were adopted statewide by the CHRB earlier in April.
“I am excited to join The Stronach Group in this new role at this important moment in time for the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing in the United States,” Benson said. “The organization has demonstrated a clear commitment to prioritizing the health and safety of horses that race at their tracks, and I look forward to continuing to implement world-class practices that reflect medical science while supporting their efforts to drive systemic change throughout the sport nationally.”
Prior to earning her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota, Benson received her Juris Doctor from the William Mitchell College of Law. She practiced law as a commercial litigator for a number of years prior to enrolling in vet school, and was a law school faculty member while she was attending veterinary school.