Updated on 09/02/2012 12:25AM

Saratoga: Paynter's health improving but condition is still serious

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Barbara D. Livingston
Paynter, shown galloping at Saratoga last Thursday, is being treated in a clinic for colitis, his second illness since winning the July 29 Haskell.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Haskell winner Paynter was showing signs of improvement Wednesday from his battle with colitis, but he remains in a veterinary clinic near Saratoga Race Course and his connections remain very much concerned about his health.

According to owner Ahmed Zayat, Paynter’s white blood cell count, which was dangerously low on Monday and Tuesday, had doubled by Wednesday morning.

“That’s a very positive sign, his immune system is responding to what they’ve been treating him with,” Zayat said. “We are by no means out of the dangerous zone. But he’s a tough son of a gun that horse; I’m hopeful.”

Zayat said that the sickness Paynter is suffering from now is different than what ailed him following the July 29 Haskell. At that time it was feared he had pneumonia and he had a high red-blood cell count. This time, Paynter is suffering from colitis – an inflammation of the colon – and his white-cell blood count was low.

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The latest episode was discovered Sunday night, just hours before Paynter was to have been flown back to trainer Bob Baffert’s bar at Del Mar. He had a temperature that reached 104 degrees and had diarrhea, according to Zayat.

“This is far more serious because if not addressed properly . . . the mortality rate is high,” Zayat said.

Paynter, who had been at Saratoga since Aug. 22, was sent Sunday night to the Upstate Equine Medical Center in Schuylerville, N.Y. – about 10 miles from Saratoga.

Dr. Laura Javsicas is overseeing Paynter’s care at the clinic and confirmed on Wednesday that the blood tests indicated improvement.

"He’s being treated very aggressively for colitis," Javsicas said. "Diagnostic tests are pending, we do not know the exact cause [but] we have no reason to believe that it is at all related to his illness in [July]. His attitude has been good, and he definitely is still in critical condition. We had some improvement in his blood work today.”

Zayat said that doctors at that clinic told him the horse’s attitude had improved. He received a text from one of the doctors that Paynter was “out eating fresh grass and more playful.”

Paynter, who won the Haskell by nearly four lengths after getting beat a neck by Union Rags in the Belmont Stakes, was being considered for the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 22 but those plans are obviously scrapped.

Following his release from the New Jersey clinic, Paynter had spent several days in training at Belmont Park. After arriving at Saratoga on Aug. 22, Paynter galloped one day and jogged for a few more over the Oklahoma training track.

unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
10 new tweets from A.Zayat minutes ago re Paynter: all bloodwork normal (white cells 9000) liver and kidney enzymes normal, eating some greens w/ grass and hay, feet fine, diarrhea reduced, temp 103. definitely doing better,but want to see white cells stabilize for 24 hours. scoping lungs at 5:00, update after that. antibiotics being given.
Jade Sword More than 1 year ago
Good to hear.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Thank you for the updates on Paynter. We appreciate you are doing that for us.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Keeping up with situation through Twitter. Happy to see there is some good news this morning on Paynter. He's doing a little bit better. I will keep praying for him. Paynter has a big challenge to deal with here.
Ziggy Pop More than 1 year ago
Good news this AM according to Tweets. The visit by the Zayat's must have given him a boost. Perhaps Paynter's favorite groom needs to go hang with him so he knows he is not alone. We all know how sensitive these magnificent creatures can be.
Perl More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure which is more revolting - the rampant agenda-driven speculation over why paynter has become I'll or the dozens of people falling all over himself to show what caring, loving human beings they are (note, this is completely self serving - horses can't read and nobody in their right mind wants to see an innocent colt suffer). Either way this has been a horrrible year for Horseracing. And if and when they euthanize paynter it won't change anything because Horseracing does not a have a central governing body in this country.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Perl. My agenda is for Paynter n all horses. I have been involved as trainer, owner, n assistant to BC winning outfits. I have a degree in equine science as well. I have no personal issues w baffert. Just care for horses. Thats my job.
Perl More than 1 year ago
I have no issue with what you have posted and I don't doubt your legitimacy. I think there are plenty of reasons to be suspicious of the Bafferts and Pletchers of the world, but until some concrete proof comes out, what can you really do? From what I have read, it is possible for horses to suffer from this kind of condition without drugs being involved.
Vinod Jhangimal More than 1 year ago
Correct Perl. As long as there is no concrete proof, all of the blood doping and over medication charges are just slanderous. Suspicions without proof serve no purpose other than to incite emotions. As to the messages of support, I imagine that the owners of Paynter or people close to the Paynter camp would read drf and in one way or another feel better by the messages of support pouring in for Paynter and those positive feelings. It is called empathy, a very common human emotion. Never underestimate the power of prayer and positive thoughts.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Horses cannot read, true, but their connections and those that work for their connections CAN read. If they just happen to come online to see how the fans are taking the news about Paynter, it is a good thing that they see people are pulling for Paynter's recovery and return to good health. They can also verbally convey to Paynter when they visit him that all of his fans are rooting for him and praying for him to recover because they have seen the physical evidence that they are rooting for Paynter through the fans's posts of support. There is absolutely nothing wrong with people expressing their concern for Paynter on the Internet. The posts of support work in the same vein as a Vision Board works. It's pretty fabulous that so many people care so deeply about this horse's well-being. We see so much whining and moaning and complaining and belly-aching about various horses on a daily basis on this site, and sometimes we've seen some downright disrespect for various horses on this site. That's what is truly sickening. It's great to see that a large portion of this community likes Paynter and would like to see him recover to lead a full, happy life after this challenge has been won by him.
russell More than 1 year ago
Wow, terrible news. I hope he makes it but it sounds bad. Losing 100 pounds in three days is awful.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Check his spleen. The function of the spleen is formation and filtration of blood. The spleen produces lymphocytes, type of white blood cell that is important to immune function. Filtration of blood by the spleen is important in removal of foreign materials including bacteria and particularly old red blood cells... This horse in my opinion was blood doped. What is published here and in,previous articles show that. He has all symptoms of a malfunctioning spleen which is a direct side effect of doping.
Marty Paler More than 1 year ago
Thanks Dr Thomas Cook for the very informative analysis.
Heidi Kruckenberg More than 1 year ago
Here's the latest tweets from Zayat on Paynter. It's a tough read so, be prepared. Justin Zayat did a series of tweets updating their visit to Paynter. Thurs. Aug. 30th this was dictated byAhmed Zayat my dad as he is driving. We are doing this for his fans So again next 24 hours are critical that this nightmare scenario doesn’t happen. I am very comforted that the best vets and equine Care from all over the country so please #pray Our main concern is that his white blood cells go up so the infection and bacteria that are now in his Colon and intestines don’t travel through his bloodstream and infect other organs. And his body becomes septic. If that happens that is the End of it. So again next 24 hours are critical that this nightmare scenario doesn’t happen. I am very comforted that the best vets and equine Care from all over the country so please #pray As we were petting and kissing him. He started looking at us with his sad eye kind of saying I know you are here for me. Justin tried to feed Him when we first got in an he refused. After 2 hours he rubbed against Justin and was ready to eat. As you would expect his appetite Been horrible. So he started eating fresh grass from benjamins hand. As time went on. He for the first time since Monday he went to his hay Bin and dr. Laura was very happy since it was his first time eating hay since Monday. She had been trying to give him treats he didn’t want. Hope we gave him the love and care and encouragement to do that. With all your good wishes and prayers we will pull through that Positive side. His feet are perfect no discomfort at all. He is in critical condition the next 24 hours are crucial. He needs to fight. He has been an unbelievable patient. Full of class and very easy to work with. He looked sad to me and depressed. I can feel his body temp And how high it is. When I was touching him. His head was low down. Totally heartbreaking. I can see Benjamin totally tearing and trying Have been there. Dr. Laura Javsicas. You can tell that she genuinely cares. She warned us that he lost around 100+ pounds since Monday. We are driving back from Saratoga. Tough day. Very sad. We are very emotional. Our only console and comfort pic.twitter.com/c0r8LYyH First tweet We are still with paynter in his stall. It will be a 3 hour drive back home. Will update on the drive back
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Putting all speculation aside. That is heart wrenching. Been there. My thoughts onlt for Paynter to recover.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
As an after thought. Why leave him. Would any fan here leave this colt? I WOULDN'T!
Gael Daisley More than 1 year ago
The Zayat family are to be commended, Paynter hasn't given up the fight, nor have they, hoping for a miracle from Australia
unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
Zayats were with Paynter and have tweeted extensively. Situation very dire, next 24 hours critical. Feet ok, but high fever and diarrhea remain. lost 100 lbs. finally eating a little hay. need a miracle, it would appear.
unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
need the white blood cell count to go up very soon.
Wendy Tulenko More than 1 year ago
For all you people out there screaming this is the result of drugs (other than antibiotics), let me set you straight. The normal balance of bacteria in a horse's hindgut can be disrupted for many reasons and result in diarrhea/colitis. Case in point: Several years ago my 26 yr. old lawn ornament became colicky out in the pasture so I called the vet. After initial treatment did not help he went to the clinic. Several hours after he arrived he developed severe diarrhea/colitis. The cause was never found even though cultures were done. He had been in the same pasture for years, had received no medications, and still got sick. He recovered in a few days and he is still out in the pasture. What I'm trying to say is blaming illegal drugs for Paynter's colitis is jumping to ill-conclusions and speculation at best.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
You haven't been paying attention Wendy. No one said illegal drugs directly caused his colitis. What I've been saying and I thought rather clearly is that it goes back to shortly after the Haskel. Temp spike, high red blood count, misinformation then and more spin now. I was honest about what I thought started it all and why he hasn't been right since. You are right though, juicing or blood doping did not directly cause his colitis. And that has little to do with anything that's been discussed.
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
LOL NO Cents read again you're missing something.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
I took your advice and read it again. It's nice story of her 26 year old horse that had colitis several years ago.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Did your vet mention 'sand-colic' Wendy? Is he in a pasture or a pen. You gotta let them have alittle grass along with dirt . Try moving him around to 'greener pastures.'
Five More than 1 year ago
What a rude approach !!! You just crawled out from somewhere ? geez....
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Did the vet mention sand-colic?
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Five (what) I'm rude? Well while you're sticking up for Wendy, she's guilty of animal abuse. She does not even call him her 'Horse', he is her fn lawn ornament. She's not even feeding him right so what about his feet, his.teeth, his skin. Aim your rage where it belongs... geez
Five More than 1 year ago
Hey Chad, my reply, with reference to "rude" was to Wendy. Due to the sequence the replies shown here, my post came after yours. I thought, Wendy's "screaming", and "let me set you straight" remarks were downright ignorant, as she obviously have not read previous posts.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
OK, understood and thank you. 'Here's to the horses.'
Five More than 1 year ago
Would DRF be in a position to pass on our concerns, as blogs herein, to any official(s) or federal, to ensure there was no wrongdoing ? We are not making any accusations nor slandering anyone, just that, something does not smell right. I truly, truly, hope it was just the sour grain.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
You gotta go to an animal rights group. DRF would be pounced on by lawyers from all directions.