06/27/2002 11:00PM

So far, so good after surgery for Cashier's Dream

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Cashier's Dream is recovering well three days after surgery to correct a twisted gut, according to Barry Irwin, principal of the Team Valor syndicate that owns the Grade 1 winner.

"Her white-cell count is a little low, and that's the current concern, but she's not on any medication," Irwin said from the Team Valor office in Versailles, Ky. Irwin reports that the filly is grazing and her intestines seem to be functioning well. "If she gets through this weekend, I'll relax."

So will surgeon Dr. Michael Spirito, 50, who performed the surgery at the Hagyard Davidson McGee clinic in Lexington. On Tuesday, Spirito spent a half-hour examining about 70 feet of Cashier's Dream's intestines, and the problems he found there suggest the filly is fortunate to be alive.

A horse's intestine can develop a torsion, or twist, for a number of reasons: diet change, intestinal blockage, even parasites. However it starts, torsion is life-threatening. "The small intestine twists and gets spun up into a bunch of very tight loops," Spirito said. "That cuts the blood flow off.

"The horse's gut is basically badly designed," he added. "They're very fragile.

"She was especially not fun, because her twists were especially tight," he said.

With Cashier's Dream lying on her back, Spirito started at one end of the intestine and gradually untangled and emptied the knotted intestines. "As you get the loops untangled, you push them back into their normal position and evaluate the intestinal segments' viability," he said.

As circulation returns to the affected area, it becomes clear which intestinal segments are beyond repair.

Spirito eventually cut out 10 feet of severely damaged intestine from Cashier's Dream, then stitched her up. The procedure took 30 minutes, about six times longer than average, and cost about $2,500, not including post-operative care in the hospital.

Three days later, Spirito is optimistic about Cashier's Dream's chances. "Most horses, if they aren't going to survive this, die within 48 hours of surgery," he said.

Breeders James and Laura Jackson also are concerned about Cashier's Dream. The couple bred and raised the Service Stripe filly before selling her privately to Team Valor after her second start.

"We were so upset to hear about her problems," Laura Jackson said. "She's always been special to us. From the day she was born, she was a handful, and you had to take special care dealing with her. Even though she's on the smaller side, no one's going to push her around."

The Jacksons' connection to Cashier's Dream goes back to the filly's sire and dam. James Jackson got dam Jerry's Sister in a trade with owner Charlie Williams. "He gave me the mare in exchange for training her foal, and then I would get the mare and her next foal," he said.

The Jacksons bred Jerry's Sister back to Service Stripe, a stallion who now stands at Crestwood Farm in Kentucky. The result was Cashier's Dream.

Laura Jackson galloped Cashier's Dream before the couple sold the filly. "She was small, but always had a nice stride," she said. "She was very light on her feet, so you never felt her hit the ground. It was as if she had 20 gears you could go through and still have more under the gas pedal."

Scorpion retired to Vinery

Grade 1 winner Scorpion has retired from racing and will enter stud in 2003 at Tom Simon's Vinery in Lexington, Ky., the farm announced Thursday. Scorpion's fee will be announced at a later date.

Scorpion, by Seattle Slew, won the Grade 1 Jim Dandy Stakes last year at Saratoga for his biggest career victory. Scorpion also placed in four graded stakes during his 2-year-old season in 2000.

The colt retires with a career record of 19-4-1-3 and earnings of $555,749 from three seasons at the racetrack.

D. Wayne Lukas trained Scorpion for owners Robert C. Baker, David Cornstein, and William L. Mack.

Scorpion is out of the stakes-placed Chief's Crown mare Petiteness and is the mare's best foal to date. Shirley Taylor's W Lazy T operation bred Scorpion and consigned him to the 1999 Keeneland September auction through Mill Ridge, agent. Robert Baker purchased Scorpion there for $490,000.

Danehill won't stand in Australia

Coolmore Stud announced Friday that its popular stallion Danehill will not stand the 2002 southern hemisphere season in Australia. The global breeding operation has opted to rest the 16-year-old stallion at its headquarters facility in Ireland. Danehill stood at the Irish division this year for a private fee.

Danehill, a son of Danzig and Razyana (His Majesty), is a dominant sire in Australia. His foals include 2001 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Banks Hill (GB) and Australian champions Danewin, Dane Ripper, Rose of Danehill, and Catbird, among countless other international champions.

Coolmore said it will send Giant's Causeway to its Australian farm instead of Danehill. His fee will be $137,500 ($77,454 American), the highest in Australia.

Horse infected with West Nile dead

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture reported Friday that a Thoroughbred yearling in Fayette County has died after becoming infected with the West Nile virus, making the colt the state's first fatality from the virus in Kentucky this year. The colt had been vaccinated against the disease, according to the Department of Agriculture notice.