Dionne Benson

The Stronach Group has announced that Dionne Benson, DVM, JD, will serve as the group’s chief veterinary officer.

For the past seven years, Benson has been the executive director and chief operating officer for the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Benson join our team,” said Belinda Stronach, chairman and president of The Stronach Group.  “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 creation of the chief veterinary officer position (originally titled director of equine welfare), was part of the initial enhanced protocols and procedures plan The Stronach Group put forth in March.  In her role, Benson will direct safety and welfare, as well as veterinary research initiatives for all of The Stronach Group facilities across the country, including, California’s Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields; Gulfstream Park in South Florida; and Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park in Maryland.

Benson also serves on several veterinary committees within the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) and was instrumental in working with the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) to refine the medication rules for horses racing at Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields to be consistent with or stricter than IFHA standards. The CHRB adopted these medication rules last week.

Earlier this month, the Association of Racing Commissioners International honored Benson with their International President’s Award for Exemplary Service.

“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 DVM from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Benson received her juris doctor (JD) 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.