Paynter continued his remarkable comeback Tuesday when posting his first workout since returning to trainer Bob Baffert's barn in late December, completing three furlongs in :36 at Santa Anita. It was the third-fastest of 12 workers at the distance.
"He went nice, very nice," Baffert told Daily Racing Form. "He's training great. He looks great."
Paynter got sick after recording a convincing 3 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in late July. He spiked a fever a few days later and had to be transported to an equine clinic in New Jersey. Discharged after more than a week's stay, he soon joined Baffert's string at Saratoga, but came down with colitis and was hospitalized at the Upstate Equine Medical Center in Schuylerville, New York, on August 26.
Paynter was then discovered to have an abscessed area in his colon, and his team of specialists recommended transfer to New Bolton Center for surgery. Following the October 3 operation, Paynter began his amazing recovery. Within two weeks, he was moved to the Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center near Elkton, Maryland, for his rehabilitation and there have no been no hiccups since then.
"After getting the green light from all his vets and him passing yesterday's physical examination and ultrasounds that was done at the New Bolton Center with flying colors, it was decided that he is ready to ship to California," owner Ahmed Zayat said on December 23. "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 @Midnightlute [Baffert's Twitter handle] to resume what he loves as a Thoroughbred, which is racing and being around all his friends."
Zayat kept fans apprised of Paynter's critical illness, and his well wishers responded with an outpouring of support and prayers. So compelling was his recovery story that it was named the "NTRA Moment of the Year" and Paynter also received the 2012 Secretariat Vox Populi, or "Voice of the People," Award that recognizes the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the American public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing.
Baffert called it a "miraculous recovery" on Tuesday and added, "I don't see any effects from the illness."
Paynter, who finished a neck second in the Belmont Stakes two starts back, has earned $952,224 from a 6-3-2-0 career mark.