03/09/2007 1:00AM

Barbaro inspires scholarship fund

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Gulfstream Park has announced the establishment of a scholarship to provide financial aid and professional mentoring through the American Association of Equine Practitioners to students pursuing a career in equine medicine and surgery.

The Barbaro Scholarship Program, named after the Kentucky Derby winner who died of complications that set in after he broke a leg in the Preakness, will be held in conjunction with the University of Florida and Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns Gulfstream. It has initial funding of $30,000 and will offer two scholarships to fourth-year University of Florida veterinary students and a third to a graduate student in equine veterinary research at the school.

"The health and safety of the Thoroughbreds and those who ride and take care of them is of paramount importance to Magna Entertainment Corp.," said Gulfstream Park's president, Bill Murphy. "Barbaro's injury has served as a call to do all we can to promote research that will one day lead to the kind of medical developments that will preserve the lives of some of these wonderful animals."

Murphy credited Gulfstream track veterinarian Dr. Mary Scollay for her assistance in getting the new program up and running.

Winners of the scholarships will be announced on March 24.