03/26/2013 8:06PM

Rachel Alexandra returns home to Stonestreet

Barbara D. Livingston
Champion Rachel Alexandra returned to Stonestreet Farm on Tuesday after spending nearly six weeks at Rood and Riddle Hospital in Lexington while recovering from abdominal surgery.

Nearly six weeks after undergoing abdominal surgery following foaling complications, 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra returned home to Stonestreet Farm in Lexington, Ky., on Tuesday to continue her recovery. 

The 7-year-old Medaglia d'Oro mare has been at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington since Feb. 13, where she was rushed after displaying signs of distress after delivering her second foal, a Bernardini filly, early on Feb. 12.

Stonestreet employees and Rood and Riddle medical technicians will continue to monitor Rachel Alexandra around the clock as she continues her recovery at Stonestreet, and Dr. Bonnie Barr, an attending veterinarian on the case, will make daily visits to the farm to check her progress.

“This time of transition is a big step, as well as an added stress in her recovery from a very serious, life-threatening condition," Barr said. "We feel, however, that she is ready to take on this challenge, and in doing so, she takes the next step toward getting back to life on the farm."

Stonestreet employees decorated the mare's stall with get-well cards sent by fans prior to her arrival on Tuesday, as well as a get-well banner signed by fans at Fair Grounds Race Course, where the mare won the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks during her championship campaign in 2009.

“Having Rachel home is a milestone in her recovery," owner Barbara Banke said. "Our Stonestreet team is so happy to have her home and we are eager to give her all the exceptional care and attention she needs. I am deeply grateful to [attending veterinarians Drs. Brett Woodie, Barr, and Steve Reed] and the entire Rood and Riddle team for the unparalleled care Rachel has received at their facility. A special thank you as well to medical technician Brent Comer for his dedication to her care, and to [public relations and marketing specialist] Alex Riddle for keeping Rachel’s fans updated on her progress.”

Rachel Alexandra had been walking and hand-grazing several times a day at Rood and Riddle, and will continue to be hand-grazed during her first days home at Stonestreet. She will then be transitioned to a small, temporary round pen the size of her stall. As the mare becomes comfortable with her surroundings, the size of the pen will gradually be increased, followed ultimately by transition into a paddock.

Rachel Alexandra began showing signs of distress on the afternoon of Feb. 13 after delivering her Bernardini filly on Feb. 12 at Stonestreet. She was rushed to Rood and Riddle, where exploratory abdominal surgery revealed a damaged area in the mare's small colon, injured during foaling, which led to a bacterial infection.

Surgeons removed the damaged section of the small colon and successfully reattached the two remaining ends. In the ensuing weeks, the mare suffered one setback when she underwent a procedure on March 7 to drain an abscess that developed adjacent to her reproductive tract and rectum. The abscess was successfully drained via a standing surgical procedure, with the mare's vitals remaining normal throughout.

Rachel Alexandra's Bernardini filly returned to Stonestreet the night of her dam's surgery and has been reported in good health. The filly is being raised by nurse mare Miss Beutiful Ojos, a Quarter Horse, and will remain with that mare until she is weaned.

Rachel Alexandra was raised by a nurse mare after her own dam, Lotta Kim, rejected her as a foal.