Colorado State University Veterinarian is on Team Receiving Eclipse Award for Work in Thoroughbred Racing

Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, an equine orthopedic veterinary expert at Colorado State University, is part of a group receiving a prestigious Special Eclipse Award today.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association present the award today to the "On Call" media-assistance program of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. The Special Eclipse Award honors outstanding individual achievements in, or contributions to, the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

Representatives of the On Call program of the AAEP, including McIlwraith, were presented the Special Eclipse at the 38th annual Eclipse Awards today at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach in Miami Beach, Fla.

"It is an incredible honor for the On Call program to be recognized for its contributions to racing and its role in increasing the public’s knowledge of horse health issues," said David L. Foley, AAEP executive director. "We dedicate this award to the many AAEP members who have volunteered their time and expertise to serve the industry, the media and, most importantly, the horse."  

The On Call group was formed in the wake of accidents and injuries that occurred in the 1990 Breeders’ Cup and the lack of equine medical information available to the viewing public. Since its creation in 1991, On Call has developed into an innovative media-assistance program of equine professionals who provide accurate veterinary information to the broadcast and print media during live network races. More than 20 media-trained equine veterinarians are available to respond to crisis situations at 100 televised races throughout the year or whenever there’s a need to address a media inquiry about matters that affect horses’ health and safety, such as the national inquiries that followed Barbaro’s injury at the Preakness in 2006.

McIlwraith has served with Dr. Larry Bramlage of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, Lexington, Ky., as the AAEP On Call veterinarian for the World Thoroughbred Championships since the inception of the program. McIlwraith is also the On Call veterinarian for the Championship Quarter Horse races at Los Alamitos.

The Orthopaedic Research Center at Colorado State is known worldwide for its research and clinical work to prevent joint problems in equine athletes such as racehorses and cutting horses and for researching ways to heal orthopedic injuries including gene therapy and novel cartilage healing techniques, with some recently expanded work in human athletes.

"Members of the National Turf Writers Association, other media members who cover racing’s major races and the entire racing industry owe a great deal to the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ On Call Program," said Tom Law, president of the National Turf Writers Association and managing editor of Thoroughbred Times. "Since the program’s inception in 1991, the On Call Program has educated and informed members of the media as well as the general public about any injuries or tragedies that unfortunately occur on the racetrack, and its team members do so in a very calm and collected manner that is good for the short- and long-term health of the game."

McIlwraith is director of Colorado State University’s Gail E. Holmes Equine Orthopaedic Research Center. The center, which is part of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, treats orthopedic injuries of the world’s finest horses and investigates orthopedic treatments and preventative medicine, some of which can also be applied to human medicine.

McIlwraith joined Colorado State in 1979 in the Department of Clinical Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences as an equine surgeon with a research focus in orthopedics. Milestones include his appointment as director of the Equine Sciences Program in 1994, which accompanied a major expansion of the orthopedics research program. In 2001, he became the full-time director of the orthopedic research program. The program has helped make the university the world’s leading center for comparative orthopedic research.

McIlwraith’s history of accomplishment as a researcher, clinician and educator can be seen in his leadership and development of numerous programs at Colorado State including the musculoskeletal research program, a Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence.

McIlwraith, who was born in New Zealand, also is a diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons, and diplomate, European College of Veterinary Surgeons.