Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/28/14
The sport of Horse Racing experienced it’s own Christmas miracle when owner Ahmed Zayat recently announced that 2012 Haskell Invitational winner Paynter would be sent back to trainer Bob Baffert’s barn on Dec 29 to resume training and his racing career. If you recall Paynter, by the gorgeous Awesome Again, led most of the way in the 2012 Belmont Stakes before being gunned down late by Union Rags. He bounced back several weeks later to manhandle his foes (Dullahan and Gemologist for starters) in the 2012 Haskell Invitational and a star was born. But it was not to be….after the Haskell Paynter contracted a virus that escaladed very quickly. The virus (basically) turned into to colitis, which in turn, caused the beginnings of laminitis in three of his four hooves and before we knew it, (his weight plummeted to below 1,000 lbs) Paynter was fighting for his life. With round the clock care, the resilient Paynter eventually defeated the colitis, and got the laminitis under control, but was still “spiking” fevers. He was sent to the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania, where it was discovered that on top of the colitis and laminitis, Paynter had an infection that was partially blocking his intestines. Put into surgery almost immediately, doctors removed an eye popping 15 inch abscess from his digestive tract. Several days after that, he went to Fair Hill to recover. To say that Paynter’s recover has gone well would be the understatement of the year. Paynter put on over 100 lbs (I know how he feels, I’ve also put on that much weight during the holidays) and is now reportedly up to almost 1,100 lbs…his fighting weight sort of speak. Mr. Zayat tweeted: Paynter has made it very clear to me, my family and his vets and all his caretakers that he is ready to go back to his trainer (Bob Baffert) to resume what he love as a Thoroughbred which is racing and being around all his friends. After getting the green light from all his vets and him passing yesterday’s physical examination and ultrasounds that were done at the NewBoltonCenter with flying colors. It was decided that he is ready to ship to California. After searching all possible flights, we found out that the best direct flight will be on December 29th from Newark airport to LAX. My family and I are extremely excited and proud of our warrior. We have made plans to personally travel to CA to be the first to welcome our special colt back to his old home and to make sure that he is settled safely and happily On a personal note, I’d like to openly apologize to Paynter because I, for one, thought for sure his career was over and thought probably his life as well. I underestimated the soon to be four year old’s heart, sheer will to survive, guts and determination. This is certainly not the first time a horse has proved me wrong and it certainly won’t be the last time either…but you know what?…. I’m so glad he did. Thanks for reading   Paynter… this year’s Christmas miracle  
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