Laoban Vet Begins Death-Related Suspension

Dr. Heather Wharton, the veterinarian responsible for injecting WinStar stallion Laoban with a so-called “Black Shot” shortly before his death in 2021, has begun serving a 90-day suspension as part of a negotiated settlement with the Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners revealed Tim Sullivan with the LEO Weekly. Per the released report, Wharton is also obligated to pay a $30,000 administrative fine, complete at least four hours of continuing education, and has agreed to accept a written reprimand that will serve as a permanent disciplinary mark on her record.

A report prepared on behalf of North American Specialty Insurance Company described in detail the fatal efforts to spark Laoban’s interest in breeding. Wharton injected the stallion with a mixture of four substances–three of them expired–and one intended to treat anemia in baby pigs, not horses. Attorney Harvey Feintuch concluded vitamins intended to be administered intrasmuscularly were instead injected intravenously, that expired Vitamin B12 was administered at five times the recommended dosage, and that expired Vitamin B Complex was administered despite a warning of anaphylactic shock.

WinStar attorney W. Craig Robertson provided a prepared statement from the farm’s CEO, Elliott Walden, to Mr. Sullivan, and said no other comment from the farm would be made.

“Laoban’s tragic passing has had a profound impact on everyone at our farm,” Walden said. “With more than 20 years of experience in the thoroughbred business, WinStar always has placed the utmost priority on the safety of our horses. We’ve accepted the board’s decision, Dr. Wharton will remain on staff, and we will continue to review treatment protocols. Our commitment to our horses is unwavering, and we will work tirelessly to uphold the highest standards of safety and welfare in our sport.”

WinStar’s Dr. Natanya Nieman, interviewed during the initial investigation, told the veterinary examiners board that she was unaware of any other horse at WinStar being treated with the combination of ingredients in the “Black Shot,” and that the farm had changed its protocols since the stallion’s death.

“Things are much tighter,” she told St. Clair. “We have written a whole standard operating procedure.”

This story has also been reported by the Blood-Horse.

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