The next 24 hours are critical in the recovery process of ailing Haskell Invitational (gr. I) winner Paynter, owner Ahmed Zayat said Sept. 3.
The 3-year-old colt has an infection at a catheter site and has also developed clotting in his veins as a result of low protein while battling colitis—inflammation of the colon—at Upstate Equine Medical Center in Schuylerville, N.Y., just outside Saratoga Springs.
The Zayat Stables runner was sent to the clinic last week after spiking a fever and suffering from diarrhea, the same symptoms he developed following a victory in the July 29 Haskell at Monmouth Park.
"Today we had to deal with new issues that (arose for) the first time," Zayat said via Twitter Sept. 3. "(Dr. Laura Javsicas) was having a hard time finding an un-swollen vein to insert (the catheter). It is important because this is where he gets his nutrients (and) medications."
Zayat also said the clinic is treating the son of Awesome Again with plasma in an attempt to remedy the blood clotting issues.
"Today has been a tough day as he is giving us mixed signals," Zayat said. "While his appetite has improved and his temperature is normal (and) his blood work has been good, it has been an emotional, tough day for Laura and myself as we are (now) dealing with issues that apply to comfort and pain. We need to be very careful of how to deal with these serious issues."
The period at Upstate Equine Medical Center mark the second time in a month that Paynter has been hospitalized. He was scheduled to fly home the day after winning the Haskell, but was instead sent to the Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center in New Jersey for treatment. Released Aug. 10, he trained at Belmont Park for several days and then was shipped to Saratoga Race Course to be placed under the care of trainer Bob Baffert's assistant, Jim Barnes.
Barnes was to have flown Paynter back to Baffert's home base in Southern California Aug. 27, but the colt was unable to travel after becoming ill again and was sent to the New York clinic instead.
"I personally have zero tolerance for the word 'suffering,'" Zayat said. "It is important that we give our warrior a chance to fight and battle his illness but also (keep) our eye on our goal, which is to get him healthy and happy—but not at any cost. Paynter has been good to all of us and we need to treat him with the love and dignity that he deserves. Laura and I and all his vets and Bob Baffert are particularly conscious of that. We once again ask for your prayers, as the next 24 hours will tell the tale."
Paynter, bred in Kentucky by Diamond A Racing Corp., is out of the Cee's Tizzy mare Tizso. He has three wins and two seconds from six starts, with earnings of $952,224. Prior to the Haskell, he finished second by a neck to Union Rags after showing the way in the Belmont Stakes (gr .I).
About the Author
Winner of the 2011 Eclipse Award for Feature/Commentary and the 2008 Louisville Metro Journalism Award for Sports Writing, Claire Novak has melded her love for human-interest journalism and the equine breed into a successful Turf writing career. Since her first freelance article on racing was published at BloodHorse.com in 2005, her byline has appeared in the New York Times, ESPN The Magazine, and on ESPN.com, among others. She lives near Lexington and, when not writing about racing, can often be found jumping her Thoroughbred, Bob.