Grade 1 Haskell Invitational hero Paynter continues to battle colitis at Upstate Equine Medical Center in Schuylerville, New York. Owner Ahmed Zayat and his son, stable manager Justin Zayat, are keeping the colt's fans informed of his condition via Twitter, and the clinic has also posted on its Facebook page.
Ahmed Zayat had revealed Thursday that it "wasn't a good night for Paynter," described the gravity of his illness, and asked his well-wishers to "keep praying" for his recovery.
Early Friday afternoon, his owner issued an encouraging interim bulletin, and promised further reports this evening following more tests:
"Paynter update: our warrior is continuing to fight and fight hard. I can describe today as a good day for Paynter. Thanks for all your prayers and good vibes you are sending to his team of vets.
"On the positive side. His appetite is good. Not only is he eating fresh grass and hay but for the first time he has eaten some greens.
"His complete bloodwork is normal both the white blood cells and red blood cells. All enzymes both liver and kidney are totally normal.
"His feet continue to stay perfect. We changed the ice around them today and they were very happy with how they looked. Now we put them back for precautions.
"By no means are we out of the woods yet but definitely we are feeling much better today than yesterday.
"On the negative side his fever is still there at 103. His diarrhea is there but better. His lungs are the same as yesterday.
"We have started some antibiotics just to be precautious that the bacteria that can travel through the bloodstream is not fungus.
"We are hopeful next update will be around 5 p.m. after we take his bloodwork and new vital signs as well as an ultrasound on his lungs to see if there is change from this morning.
"It has been a great 12-hour turnaround. Please God let's keep heading in the right direction."
Paynter's condition had given cause for alarm Thursday, and Justin Zayat alerted fans that the next 24 hours could decide his survival.
"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," the racing manager said..
"If that happens that is the end of it. So again next 24 hours are critical that this nightmare scenario doesn't happen."
That worst-case possibility appeared to recede Friday morning, as Ahmed Zayat was elated to report:
"Omg omg the power of prayer. Please keep praying. His white blood cell is 9,000 which is 9X of what it was. Good sign."
Justin Zayat paid tribute to the care that Paynter is receiving, and noted that Dr. Laura Javsicas has gone above and beyond in her dedication:
"Our only console and comfort is the angel that is attending Paynter," he tweeted Thursday. "She has not slept since Monday. An incredible professional vet who has not stopped crying since we have been there.
"You can tell that she genuinely cares."
The Zayats have likewise been expressing their gratitude for the prayers, well wishes and kind messages from Paynter's fans.
This is the second time within the past month that Paynter has become very ill. Just a couple of days after his 3 3/4-length victory in the July 29 Haskell, the Bob Baffert trainee spiked a fever and had to be transported from Monmouth to the Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center.
After spending more than a week at that New Jersey clinic, Paynter was discharged and vanned to Belmont Park. He later joined Baffert's runners at Saratoga, where he began to resume galloping, only to become acutely ill with fever and diarrhea this past weekend.
Last Sunday, Paynter was admitted to the Schuylerville clinic, where he was diagnosed with colitis.
According to the Upstate Equine Medical Center's Facebook page, "there is no evidence that his current illness is related to any prior ailment."