Updated on 08/30/2012 3:34PM

Paynter found to have colitis; vet expresses great concern

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Barbara D. Livingston
Paynter has had his return to California delayed by illness since his Haskell Invitational victory.

Paynter on Tuesday night was described as being seriously ill by Dr. Mark Cheney, the respected equine veterinarian who is overseeing his treatment, who said the Haskell Invitational winner has colitis - an inflammation of the colon - and that a principle concern now is also founder.

"I'm worried to death," Cheney said in a telephone interview. "You've got to keep your fingers crossed. Just hope and pray."

Paynter was taken late Sunday to the Upstate Equine Medical Center in Schuylerville, N.Y., nine miles northeast of Saratoga. He had been at Saratoga for several days after arriving from Belmont Park. This is the second time in less than a month that Paynter has become so ill that he needed to be sent to a veterinary clinic.

On July 31, two days after his win in the Haskell, Paynter was sent to the Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center in Ringoes, N.J. He remained there for two weeks before going to Belmont Park. His trainer, Bob Baffert, said Paynter had diarrhea that time, and said "we dodged a bullet" once Paynter's condition improved.

Baffert earlier Tuesday said Paynter's temperature had reached 103 degrees in New York - normal for a horse is around 100 - and that he again had a serious case of diarrhea. Baffert sounded much more concerned with Paynter's condition this time than he did the first time he took ill in New Jersey, and Cheney says those concerns were justified.

"I just don't think he got over what he had down there," Cheney said. "I'm just glad they didn't ship him on Monday."

Paynter was scheduled to fly back to California on Monday. He had been at Saratoga since late last week after spending several days at Belmont Park. He was sent to Saratoga because Baffert had several horses there who raced last weekend -- such as Contested in the Test Stakes -- who were all scheduled to fly to California on Monday.

Cheney said that when he examined Paynter over the weekend, "He had lost weight, and you could see in his eyes he was not as healthy as he should be."

The decision was then made to send him to the clinic.

Paynter earlier this year finished second in the Belmont Stakes to Union Rags. He is owned by Ahmed Zayat.

- additional reporting by David Grening