06/09/2013 2:48PM

Hollywood Park: Paynter to make highly anticipated return Friday

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Barbara D. Livingston
Paynter, the 2012 Haskell Invitational winner, will make his long-awaited return from colic and laminitis Friday at Betfair Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Paynter, who won the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational last July and then fought through severe bouts with colic and laminitis, has been entered in a $62,000 allowance race at Betfair Hollywood Park on Friday.

Paynter is part of a field of eight for the seven-furlong race, which will be the seventh on an eight-race program. The race will be run at about 4 p.m. Pacific.

Owned by Zayat Stables, Paynter’s fight through illness captured the attention of dedicated racing fans last fall. Paynter was hospitalized in August with pneumonia and was later found to have colitis and early-stage laminitis in three legs. He underwent successful, aggressive treatment for laminitis but then had surgery in early October to have abscessed tissue removed from his cecum, a pouch in the equine large intestine.

At one point, Paynter’s weight dropped to approximately 908 pounds during his illness. Through the fall, his condition improved, and he regained weight.

The colt rejoined trainer Bob Baffert’s Southern California stable in December, weighing more than 1,100 pounds, and has been in training since early this year.

“It’s been a long time,” Baffert said Sunday. “It will be a lot of anticipation to see how he fires.”

A winner of 3 of 6 starts and $952,224, Paynter’s win in the Haskell Invitational is his only stakes victory. Earlier in his career, he finished second in the Grade 3 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs and was second, by a neck to Union Rags, in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes. Paynter set the pace in the 2012 Belmont but lost the lead in the final sixteenth.

Earlier this year, Paynter trained on Hollywood Park’s synthetic track. Friday’s race will be his first start on such a surface.

“I had him train there, and he looked good,” Baffert said.

Paynter will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano and drew post 2. The other runners in the field are Ashtar, Dime Que, Charlie’sboywins, Majestic City, Kate’s Event, Grand Berry, and Fly Lexis Fly.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kate's Event is sharp right now. Still - If Paynter is right he's a full step above him. Paynter is also the controlling pace in a race sorely lacking it, whereas Kate's Event is a 2nd tier Stalker. Kate's Event loses top rider Bejarano to Paynter and must make do with Leparoux, though Julien is a fairly decent 1 run jock. 7f is tricky at HP, a good distance for Paynter to return at. I'm backing up Paynter with Kate's Event (despite the lack of pace) in my Pick 4. I'm not betting the race any other way, since if I'm right I'm not getting rich and if I'm wrong I'm throwing away money on very little value.
frostitute More than 1 year ago
just watch the race,don't bet on him.
Vegas Guy More than 1 year ago
I cannot wait until Friday! This is awesome. It is remarkable that Paynter not only survived, but to be back in racing shape (his workouts have been above average) is amazing. Almost unheard of. Just considering surviving laminitis is remarkable (Paynter had it in 3 legs). I generally fall on the side of being critical and question owners who put their ego/needs before the horse. In this case, I believe Zayat cares with all his heart regarding the welfare of Paynter. Money has never been an issue. If it was, I would think putting this horse down or retiring the horse to breeding would be more cost effective. Zayat did not go this route. His excitement and concern expressed through social media and/or interviews is legit. I witnessed Paynter win the Haskell in person. It was awesome. Go back and YouTube that race and see if you agree. Once he made his move it was all over! He blasted home. Nonios made a nice move at him but couldn't get close when it was all said and done. Paynter could have run around that track again. I should say.....I was able to witness the care Paynter received at Fair Hill, MD during his recovery. Long story short - he was treated like royalty. I haven't seen humans receive this type of care. He was treated with respect and patience. The entire staff did an OUTSTANDING job. Petting Paynter and giving him a few red peppermints might make me sound a little childish, but it was a highlight of 2012 that I will never forget. I looked at many horses that day at the facility, probably at least 100. But none had the look of Paynter. I can't explain it. Probably not even worth trying. But trust me, something was different. The way his head was up, the way his ears were up, the way he was full of himself, shaking his head up and down. He had a strut about him. I realize I am just a casual/ignorant fan, but it was different. That was the best............
ilovemylab93 More than 1 year ago
I'll be rooting for him! He's been the horse I was most excited to see run this year - I was more excited for his return than for any of the three year olds, colt or filly.
Eric Singer More than 1 year ago
correction to my last post - Paynter rated in both the Haskell and in his 1st start at 5.5 furlongs. Looking at the PPs he towers over these - if he's right. Do you wanna take 4/5 to find out?
Vegas Guy More than 1 year ago
good point Eric. But for me, this race will NOT be wagered on. No matter the number. I just want to see Paynter be OK. And I cannot lie, I want to see him win. I cant think of any other race I wanted more. Being from Philadelpha, I guess I cheered Smart Jones pretty hard to win the Belmont. I cheered Zenyatta to catch Blame with alot of emotion. But I hope to watch this race alone on Friday. Because if Paynter wins....I may get a little emotional. And if he goes on to be entered in the Breeders Cup Classic, I obviously will hitch a flight out west! GO PAYNTER!!!!
Vegas Guy More than 1 year ago
typo - Smarty Jones..
Lenny Mamola More than 1 year ago
Baffert knows what to do
Eric Singer More than 1 year ago
I wish the horse and all the people associated the best. Hope he is coming back in one solid piece and gets to shine. For me, the horse while obviously talented had not proven that much yet. His unidimensional front end running style makes him susceptible to other early speed. And he is older now and may be a different horse. My advice as a gambler is to not take a short number for the return - if the value is there and you like, take a swing - but for short $, just watch one. Or pick a horse at a price who has current form and does not 100% need the lead.
Troy_Triplett More than 1 year ago
More excited for this Colts return than I was for the Derby. I don't need to him to win to feel his comeback is a success.... But it would make it that much sweeter
David Nguyen More than 1 year ago
When Paynter is healthy, I think him and Game on Dude are best horse in the game today...hopefully, he can have a successful 4 year old season culminated in entry into Breeder's Cup Classic at the end of the year.
eli More than 1 year ago
best horse in the game today?... I guess the whole 3 wins part went right over your head huh? I remember my first time watching a horse race! lol
russell More than 1 year ago
I hope for the best but most racing stories like this don't have fairy tale endings.