West Virginia Racing Commission hires equine medical director

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Dec. 10, 2019

The West Virginia Racing Commission Dec. 10 hired Dr. Francis “Chip” Daniel III as the state veterinarian at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and the overall equine medical director for the state.

Daniel is a partner in Valley Equine Associates, which is located not far from Charles Town in Jefferson County. As the state veterinarian at the track he replaces Dr. Joan Dalonzo, who retired in October.

WVRC Executive Director Joe Moore said multiple candidates were interviewed for the position, which was revised in an effort to meet a recommendation in the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan to Reduce Equine Fatalities that each jurisdiction have an equine medical director. West Virginia racing stakeholders are part of a Mid-Atlantic coalition that meets regularly to examine uniform rules and regulations and to facilitate reforms.

Daniel will begin his duties Jan. 4, four days before Charles Town begins its 2020 meet.

“I’m very pleased Chip agreed to do this,” said WVRC member Ken Lowe, who took part in the interviews. “Let’s get this good news out. It’s a very important position.”

“I know this gentleman and he’s an excellent choice,” WRVC Chairman Jack Rossi said. “The horsemen should be grateful to have (Daniel) in this position.”

In a related matter, Moore said WVRC staff continues to work on best practices for equine health and safety, including forming mortality review boards at Charles Town and Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort; identifying safety compliance officers for each track; and improving the pre-race examination process.

In other business, the racing commission approved a request by Charles Town to reduce 2020 racing dates from 220—the minimum it can request by statute—to 173, which is a few more than were awarded for 2019. The Charles Town Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the local mutuel clerks’ union submitted letters supporting the request.

Charles Town will race four days a week (Wednesdays through Saturdays) from January through April 18, which is Charles Town Classic Day. First post time will be 7 p.m. with the exception of Classic day, when it will be 12:30 p.m. The schedule for the remainder of the year will be released soon.

Mountaineer was approved for 130 racing programs, the same number as this year, at the WVRC meeting in November.

(Charles Town photo by Tom LaMarra)