01/05/2013 8:40PM

Santa Anita: Paynter resumes training following life-threatening illness

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Barbara D. Livingston
Paynter jogged at Santa Anita on Saturday morning for trainer Bob Baffert.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Paynter, who has not raced since taking ill following last year’s Haskell Invitational, returned to the track for training at Santa Anita on Saturday morning, the first steps toward what months ago seemed like an improbable comeback.

Paynter had to be hospitalized in clinics on the East Coast, once immediately following the Haskell, and then anew after becoming seriously ill a month later at Saratoga. But after months of rehabilitation, and apparently staving off laminitis, he has returned to training.

Baffert said he took the shoes off Paynter on Saturday morning before training so he could examine his feet.

“I was a little leery, but he looked good,” he said.

Thus satisfied, Paynter went out for a jog after being re-shod.

“What an amazing journey it’s been,” Baffert said. “He’s a tough horse."

In addition to his victory in the Haskell, Paynter was second to Union Rags in last year's Belmont Stakes.