12/30/2012 6:26PM

Santa Anita: Paynter back in Baffert's barn

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Nikki Sherman Photography
Paynter, who survived a two-month battle with colitis and laminitis, has returned to Bob Baffert's barn at Santa Anita and will resume training soon.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Paynter, the Grade 1 winner who battled colitis and laminitis in the second half of 2012, returned to trainer Bob Baffert’s stable at Santa Anita on Saturday evening.

A 4-year-old in 2013, Paynter will resume training this winter for an intended return to racing. Just having Paynter back in the barn after two serious ailments has been an inspiration, Baffert said on Sunday

“I can’t believe he’s alive,” Baffert said. “He’s really tough, mentally tough. He’s a tough sonofagun.”

Owned by Zayat Racing, Paynter has not started since winning the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in late July. Shortly after that race, he fell ill and was in serious condition in late summer, first with colitis and then laminitis. Through the fall, his condition improved.

Baffert said on Sunday that Paynter’s weight dropped as low as 908 pounds during his illness, and has rebounded to 1,109. Paynter will be walked at Baffert’s stable in coming weeks before resuming any racetrack training.

Last week, Paynter was named the winner of the Vox Populi award, administered by the owners of the late two-time Horse of the Year Secretariat.  The award recognizes a horse’s achievements and ability to gain attention for Thoroughbred racing.

Paynter has won 3 of 6 startS and $952,224. Aside from the Haskell, he was second in the Belmont Stakes in June.