10/04/2012 11:08AM

Paynter recovering after surgery to remove intestinal abscess

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Barbara D. Livingston
Paynter is eating well and is "very hungry," owner Ahmed Zayat said in a tweet.

Paynter, the Haskell winner who has been fighting colitis and laminitis during the last month, is eating well and “very hungry” 24 hours after undergoing surgery at the New Bolton Center to remove an abscess in his cecum, a pouch at the beginning of the large intestine. That update came via Ahmed Zayat’s Thursday morning tweets.

Zayat tweeted that “our champ is doing awesome today,” adding that the 3-year-old Awesome Again colt had passed several piles of manure, appeared comfortable, and was showing a normal temperature. Veterinarians believe the abscess, which Zayat told the The Blood-Horse was 15 inches long and full of bacteria and pus, was causing Paynter to develop periodic fevers over the last couple of months.

Paynter first showed signs of illness two days after his July 29 Haskell victory, when he shipped to New Jersey’s Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center with what his connections then believed to be pneumonia. He developed diarrhea but then improved and returned to light training with trainer Bob Baffert two weeks later. He shipped to the Upstate Equine Medical Clinic in Schuylerville, N.Y., on Aug. 26 with a fever and diarrhea. He later showed early signs of laminitis in three legs, but he recovered from that with aggressive treatment.

Paynter relocated to the New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania on Monday for the surgery, which took place the same day that the colt’s Haskell trophy arrived at the Zayat Stables office in New Jersey, according to Zayat’s son Justin, who also is Zayat’s racing and bloodstock manager. Throughout the ordeal, the Zayats have provided regular updates via Twitter, and many racing fans have followed the story closely through the Zayats’s 140-character bursts of news, often responding to the news with the hashtag #PowerUpPaynter. Some fans also have launched a campaign to nominate Paynter for the Vox Populi Award, created by Secretariat’s owner-breeder Penny Chenery to honor horses beloved by the public but not honored through traditional awards such as the Eclipse Award.