02/15/2013 6:49PM

Rachel Alexandra's condition remains serious on Friday

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Courtesy Stonestreet Farm via Twitter
Rachel Alexandra gets a mint from owner Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Farm at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital Friday, Feb. 15. The mare is recovering from surgery related to foaling complications.

The condition of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra "remains serious," but her attitude improved on Friday as the mare continues to recover at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. from surgery earlier this week related to foaling complications.

“She looks better today,” owner Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Farm said Friday. “Rachel is a determined fighter. It makes me feel better that she was happy to have a mint. I want to thank all her fans for their incredible devotion to Rachel. Your thoughts mean so much right now.”

Rachel Alexandra began showing signs of distress late Wednesday afternoon after delivering her second foal, a Bernardini filly, early on Tuesday. She was rushed to Rood and Riddle, where exploratory abdominal surgery revealed a damaged area in her small colon, injured during foaling, which led to a bacterial infection. Surgeons removed the damaged section of the small colon and successfully re-attached the two remaining ends. The surgery has been described as "long and technically demanding."

Rachel Alexandra's vital signs were normal on Friday, and the mare was "brighter, more alert, and demonstrating an improved attitude," according to a statement released by Banke’s Stonestreet Farms.

Dr. Brett Woodie and Dr. Bonnie Barr, attending veterinarians on the case at Rood and Riddle, were pleased with Rachel Alexandra's progress according to Stonestreet’s release, with Barr calling her a "strong mare."

On Thursday, Woodie would not offer a long-term prognosis for Rachel Alexandra’s recovery. The veterinarians added that it was also too early speculate about whether the mare's broodmare career is over.

Rachel Alexandra's post-operative care includes intravenous antibiotics, fluids, and nutrition, along with anti-inflammatory drugs and medications to aid in the prevention of scar tissue in the abdominal cavity. She also continued to have lavages through drains placed into her abdominal cavity in an attempt to flush out bacteria and inflammatory cells.

Rachel Alexandra's Bernardini filly returned to Stonestreet on Wednesday. The filly was placed under the care of a nurse mare and continues to remain in good health. The mare and foal enjoyed paddock turnout on Friday at Stonestreet.

Rachel Alexandra produced her first foal, a colt by two-time Horse of the Year Curlin now named Jess's Dream, in January 2012. Days following that birth, the mare made what was termed a "precautionary" trip to Rood and Riddle for pain management. The mare and colt returned home following a three-day stay at the facility. Woodie said the mare's problems with the two births are likely not related.

Rachel Alexandra, a 7-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, is the only starter out of the stakes-winning Roar mare Lotta Kim.

A year after the 2006 birth of Rachel Alexandra, her first foal, Lotta Kim produced an Empire Maker colt named Empire Ruler. The colt died as a 2-year-old due to wobbler's syndrome. Lotta Kim, who at one point battled an infection, did not produce another surviving foal until the birth of a full sister to Rachel Alexandra in 2011. The filly, named Samantha Nicole, was purchased for $700,000 by Stonestreet at the 2012 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

Woodie said Rachel Alexandra's two troubled foalings are not indicative of any hereditary problems.

"I don't think [that] factors in," he said of Lotta Kim's produce record.