This blog is short and sweet, one I wrote in a matter of minutes. But as my eyes took in the sight of Paynter finally back in Bob Baffert’s barn, I couldn’t help but write at least a short piece about him. When I became greatly impressed by Paynter’s maiden victory, I envisioned a future champion. Perhaps this horse would not make it to the Kentucky Derby (GI); perhaps he would not even make it to a Triple Crown race. But I knew this horse would become a superstar.
Paynter did become quite the superstar on the track, with performances that included a game runner-up finish in the Belmont Stakes (GI) and a dominant victory in the Haskell Invitational (GI). But it was what he did after those races that made him a true superstar.
Following his victory in the Haskell, Paynter was struck with a fever, which only became a more serious issue. Much too quickly, his illness became colitis and Paynter was soon also diagnosed with laminitis. Death seemed inevitable.
But Paynter fought hard. With the true heart of a champion, Paynter struggled to stay alive, fighting to defeat the illnesses that had been thrown at him. After several months, however, he achieved the impossible. With a team of supporters, including not only his loving owner Ahmed Zayat and the veterinarians that treated him, but also the thousands of fans that prayed for his recovery, Paynter became healthy again.
The awe-inspiring son of Awesome Again has returned to where he belongs: the racetrack. Only time will tell how his body handles the rigors of training again, let alone how he will fare when he returns to racing. But one thing is for sure: Paynter, the much deserving winner of the 2012 Vox Populi Award, is a true superstar with an incomparable fighting spirit.