Veterinarians Release Uncle Mo's Diagnosis

After seven weeks of extensive testing, it has been determined that 2010 champion 2-year-old male Uncle Mo has a case of cholangiohepatitis, which, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual, is a "severe inflammation of the bile passages and adjacent liver, which sporadically causes hepatic failure in horses and ruminants."

Uncle Mo at WinStar Farm

Uncle Mo (photo taken June 6) has been recovering at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky. from a case of cholangiohepatitis.

According to a statement released June 3 by owner Mike Repole, the determination of what led to the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby to be withdrawn from the race came following a biopsy of the liver and lymph nodes. After being scratched from the Derby two days before the race, Uncle Mo was sent to WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky., where he underwent extensive testing by some of the top equine internists in the country.

"Uncle Mo has been diagnosed with cholangiohepatitis," the veterinary team of internists Bill Bernard, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, of Lexington Equine Surgery and Sports Medicine; Doug Byars, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM; and Tom Divers, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, Dipl. ACVECC a professor of medicine at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine; said in the statement. "The cause of how he contracted cholangiohepatitis is unknown."

"Cholangiohepatitis can come from different sources--plant toxins, supplements, an obstruction, or bile stones," said Bernard. "We can rule out some of those differentials with the horse being a racehorse. It may be an immune hepatitis infection, probably not bacteria."

Uncle Mo has not been treated for chloangiohepatitis. Instead, his condition has been continuously monitored since his arrival at WinStar. His condition has been improving, much to the pleasure of his owner and caretakers.

"He's getting turnout and fresh grass and we've added more digestible fiber. His diet has changed some, not just for the chloangiohepatitis, but for trying to gain weight," said Bernard. "Since Uncle Mo has been at WinStar he has gained 67 pounds, his blood work is going in the right direction, his energy level is up, and his attitude has improved. We are optimistic about his prognosis and getting back to the track and continuing his racing career."

"As long as Uncle Mo is 100% healthy, he'll be sent back to Todd Pletcher's barn," Repole said. "My hope is for him to arrive back with Todd before Aug. 1. I want to personally thank Dr. Bernard, Dr. Byars, Dr. Divers, and all of the other participating vets for their treatment of Uncle Mo. I also would like to thank the entire racing community from fans to the media for their sincere concern for Uncle Mo and his health.

"My number one priority has always been and always will be the health of this wonderful horse, and though the doctors and I are optimistic that he will return to racing, Uncle Mo's progress and health over the next three months will be the determining factor."

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