Derby Winner Mine That Bird to Have Surgery

Trainer Chip Woolley Mine That Bird will undergo surgery later today for an entrapped epiglottis, but the horse is still pointed toward the Shadwell Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 29. Woolley said the surgery would be performed by Patricia Hogan, VMD, Dipl. ACVS, at the Ruffian Medical Center.

Earlier on Aug. 17, the winner of the Kentucky Derby worked five furlongs in 1:03.83, the slowest time of a dozen horses working that distance over Saratoga's main track, which was labeled "good."

The epiglottis is the triangle-shaped piece of tissue at the entrance to the larynx. It flips up and covers the opening to the windpipe when the horse swallows, preventing food material from entering the respiratory system.

The epiglottis has a firm cartilage inner make-up, so the structure is rather stiff. Epiglottic entrapment occurs when some of the soft tissue surrounding the epiglottis envelops it and stretches across it like a balloon. The clinical signs associated with epiglottic entrapment include exercise intolerance, making respiratory noise, coughing, and, occasionally, trouble swallowing or breathing.

Treatment of epiglottic entrapment involves cutting away the soft tissue that has entrapped the epiglottis; this procedure often is performed with the horse under sedation and by using a laser via the endoscope.--Claire Novak and Michael Ball, DVM 

(Originally published at  

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