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Racing Official Gilman Dead at 91

Dr. Manuel Alan Gilman, an industry leader who was the chief examining veterinarian at New York racetracks for 32 years and later served as the Jockey Club steward at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course, died on November 25. He was 91.

 

A native of Queens, N.Y. and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania veterinary school, Gilman began working in the horse identification department at the New York tracks in 1945 after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. He became chief examining veterinarian in 1950, a position he held until 1982, during which time he developed the way racehorses are currently “fingerprinted” by using the unique horny growths on the inside of horses’ legs called chestnuts, as well as pioneering the extensive pre-race examination for every horse that is now widespread in the industry.

 

“The pre-race examinations and horse identification as well as his development of programs for racing officials are all big components of his legacy,” said Dr. W. Theodore Hill, who was hired by Gilman as an examining veterinarian in 1977 and who currently serves as the Jockey Club steward at the NYRA tracks. “The pre-race examination now is a big component of horse welfare and safety, and you hear a lot about it, but back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, virtually no one else besides Dr. Gilman was doing it. He was well before his time in establishing those standards.”

 

After leaving NYRA, Gilman became general manager of Harbor View Farm, and two years later became director of the Jockey Club. He served as the Jockey Club steward at NYRA from 1986-1991, when he was awarded the Jockey Club Gold Medal for his contributions to the industry.

 

Gilman, a former resident of Garden City, N.Y., is survived by his wife of 63 years, Margaret Werber Gilman, a former Women’s Airforce Service Pilot during World War II who in 2009 was honored with a Congressional Gold Medal; their children, Charles and Jane, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

 

“He loved his job, he loved horses, and he loved the racing industry,” said Gilman’s son, Charles, an attorney with the Manhattan Law Firm of Cahill, Gordon and Reindel. “He examined tens of thousands of horses during his career, and he always said the most perfectly conformed horse of all the champions he ever examined was Buckpasser. He also said the biggest, strongest and most imposing champion he saw was Forego.”

 

Visitation will be at the Fairchild Funeral Chapel at 1201 Franklin Avenue in Garden City, N.Y., from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday, November 29. A private funeral service will be held Wednesday.

 

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to either the Grayson Jockey Club Research Foundation or the Backstretch Employee Services Team (B.E.S.T.), which provides a range of health and human services for backstretch workers at NYRA tracks.

 

 

 

 

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