Rachel Alexandra's Foal Bonds with Nurse Mare

While Rachel Alexandra continues undergoing treatment for injuries sustained during foaling on Feb. 13, the 7-year-old mare's foal, a filly by Bernardini, has bonded with her nurse mare at owner Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Farm in Lexington, Ky.

"Nurse mares are never brought into situations that are ideal," a Feb. 16 statement from Stonestreet Farm read. "They must act as a surrogate mother for a foal whose own mother is unable to care for it. In fact, a nurse mare raised Rachel Alexandra when her dam, Lotta Kim, rejected her."

Rachel Alexandra's foal is being raised by a "professional" Quarter Horse nurse mare named Miss Beutiful Ojos, who has raised foals at Stonestreet in the past.

"It is imperative that they possess good nurse mare characteristics," the statement read. "Miss Beutiful Ojos, or 'Ojos' for short, is both very sweet and a great milk producer, two of the most important nurse mare qualities.

"In those difficult situations in which we have to call in a nurse mare, Stonestreet draws upon a very select network of farms we trust to provide well-tempered and disease-free mares, while ensuring proper care for the nurse mare’s foal as well."

Even if Rachel Alexandra recovers, her filly will remain with the nurse mare, the statement said: "Rachel’s condition remains serious and she will need her strength as she fights to recover. Even if she were able to return to her foal, her milk production would have ceased.

The statement explained that Ojos foaled a filly on Wednesday and arrived at Stonestreet Farm on Thursday, "only after her own palomino filly was able to get the ‘first milk’, or all-important colostrum from her own mother. This is something Ojos’ owner is very firm about."

The statement indicated that representatives from Stonestreet Farm visited Ojos' filly on Friday afternoon. The filly is being raised with another nurse mare foal. The statement said the foals will be bottle fed and then bucket fed.

"They are both nicely bred Quarter Horse foals and (Ojos' filly) is expected to be a reining or cutting prospect," the statement said.

At last update on Friday, Rachel Alexandra's condition remains serious at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital Friday following surgery to repair a section of her small colon injured when she foaled Feb. 13, but the 2009 Horse of the Year has shown some signs of progress. Her vital signs remain normal and she was brighter, more alert, and demonstrating an improved attitude on Friday afternoon.

"She looks better today," said Banke on Friday. "Rachel is a determined fighter. It makes me feel better that she was happy to have a mint. I want to thank all her fans for their incredible devotion to Rachel. Your thoughts mean so much right now."

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