In the summer of 2003, Dr. Patricia Hogan treated a chestnut 2-year-old who had arrived at her New Jersey clinic with his head practically smashed in. Yet to make his first start, the colt was trying to earn his gate card when he instead crashed into the starting gate, badly injuring his eye and the side of his face.
“He was sent to me to have his eye removed,” recalled Hogan recently. “It was a bad injury and he had a skull fracture, but I made the decision to treat him medically, and not to remove the eye.”
Less than a year later, Hogan watched, along with millions of others as that horse ran a desperate length short in trying to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.
“Smarty Jones wasn’t famous when he came to me,” she said. “The Chapmans didn’t know what they had. To find out a couple of months later that he was that talented…that was quite the ride.”
“Quite the ride” might also describe Hogan’s journey from pedaling her bike as a kid to Johnson Park, a Standardbred fair track not far from her New Jersey home, to owning a surgical clinic that has treated many of Thoroughbred racing’s superstars.
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