10/01/2012 1:05PM

Paynter develops abscess, moving to New Bolton Center


Haskell winner Paynter was shipped Monday from an upstate New York veterinary hospital to the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, where he could undergo surgery as part of continuing treatment for colitis.

Justin Zayat, the son of Paynter’s owner, Ahmed Zayat, and his father’s racing and stallion manager, said Paynter was shipped by van to New Bolton, where he will be under the care of Dr. Louise Southwood. The journey was to take about 6 1/2 hours.

Veterinarians at the Upstate Equine Medical Center in Schuylerville, N.Y., discovered what appears to be an abscess, or what Justin Zayat termed “a lump that had a filling of bacteria,” in the colt’s abdomen during an ultrasound last week. Paynter’s attending veterinarian, Dr. Laura Javsicas, told the Zayats that the abscess could be a secondary problem related to the colitis, an inflammation of the colon that can be fatal.

“The reason we’re sending him down to the New Bolton Center is because, first of all, we could have shipped to Kentucky or something but a horse in his condition, it’s just unsafe to put him on a van for that long to ship all the way across country,” Justin Zayat said. “We sent him to the New Bolton Center because it’s a great facility and for the convenience of it. My dad has spoken to vets from all over the country and to all the vets there, and everyone’s on board with exactly what’s going on.

“When he gets there, I think they’re going to take a camera and put it inside of him, see exactly what the lump is, and from there they’re going to decide, ‘Do we go do a surgery or do we medically remove the abscess?’ ”

Zayat said the non-surgical option for treating the abscess is a course of antibiotics.

“There’s good and there’s bad to this abscess,” Zayat said. “The good is, if you get rid of the abscess, you could see maybe that was prolonging his colitis from getting better. But there’s also the fact that, going in for surgery, you have to put a horse in his condition under anesthesia, and then taking it from there. The reason Dr. Laura wanted to send him there is because if you put him on more antibiotics, it could be bad for his GI [gastrointestinal] tract. She wanted to send him there to maybe do the surgery, so she didn’t have to put him on more antibiotics.”

Zayat said Paynter has been on a special diet and is beginning to gain weight but, at about 930 pounds, is about 200 pounds lighter than his normal weight.

“He’s been eating well, and any nutrients we’ve given him over the last couple days, he’s actually been gaining some weight back,” Zayat said. “His attitude is good. He’s happy, his eyes are open, he’s being a little playful and eating, and he doesn’t seem like he’s suffering. That’s why we keep on going. Everything’s going in the right direction, so why not give him the chance to keep fighting?”

Paynter was admitted to the Upstate Equine Medical Center with colitis on Aug. 26. It was his second trip to a clinic during the summer; two days after his July 29 Haskell win, he was admitted to the Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center in New Jersey with what his connections thought was pneumonia, although he also later developed diarrhea. He improved and returned to light training with Bob Baffert two weeks later, only to ship to Schuylerville after developing a fever and diarrhea again.

In early September, Paynter showed early signs of laminitis, but that disease, caught early and treated aggressively, did not progress, giving hope that the 3-year-old Awesome Again colt might race again if vets can cure his colitis. Justin Zayat said Paynter no longer wears the supportive casts that Dr. Bryan Fraley, of the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, fitted him with as part of the laminitis treatment, and the colt has been enjoying turnout for a while.

“The other day Dr. Laura went out to see him grazing, and, even with the abscess, he started running,” Zayat said.