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Superstar Surgery Survivors Win Hearts And (Sometimes) Races - The Horse Owner's Resource

Superstar Surgery Survivors Win Hearts And (Sometimes) Races

The odds are good that racehorses will return to form after surgery. Hardest Core and Wise Dan are out to prove it.
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Colic surgery is often a complex effort to save a horse's life--and its digestive tract. But there are milder forms of colic, as well. Surgery is recommended under different circumstances and veterinarians are good at recommending which horses may be able to return to competition. Two who have left the operating table in their dust are Hardest Core, winner of the 2014 Arlington Million, and Wise Dan, Horse of the Year in 2012 and 2013, who will soon make his first start after surgery.

Colic surgery is often a complex effort to save a horse's life--and its digestive tract. But there are milder forms of colic, as well. Surgery is recommended under different circumstances and veterinarians are good at recommending which horses may be able to return to competition. Two who have left the operating table in their dust are Hardest Core, winner of the 2014 Arlington Million, and Wise Dan, Horse of the Year in 2012 and 2013, who will soon make his first start after surgery.

Not all the news from the world of horseracing is as bleak as the gloomy news from California’s Del Mar Racetrack reported last week on The Jurga Report. Breakdowns and cardiac arrests had led to the deaths or euthanization of ten horses.

But elsewhere, there is reason to smile. And on Saturday, that smile turned into a big grin as an underdog won one of America’s greatest turf races. Hardest Core wasn’t expected to beat the likes of a Coolmore invader from Europe, but he did just that in the Arlington Million outside Chicago.

Everyone likes to see an underdog win, but this underdog has a medical file an inch thick at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center. When his castration surgery was complicated by a hernia back in November, he ended up on the operating table at New Bolton, with surgeon Louise Southwood--who also operated on the intestines of colitis-surviving racehorse Paynter.

“Our Dr. Louise Southwood performed intestinal surgery that saved his life,” New Bolton Center announced proudly on their Facebook page today. The horse is owned by Andrew Bentley Racing Stable; the Bentley family lives near the famous vet hospital campus.

“We weren’t sure if he was going to get up, by some miracle he got up. We got him to the New Bolton Center (in Pennsylvania) and…they cut like 15-18 feet (of his intestines),” trainer Edward Graham is quoted as having told the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Alicia Wincze Hughes.

No two colic stories are ever alike, and the graphic details related by Edward Graham certainly trump the laid-back explanation of Kentucky trainer Charlie LoPresti about the colic "surgery" at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital for two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan this spring. 

Did Wise Dan have colic? Oh, yes. Did he have surgery? Oh, yes. Or maybe not. How do you define colic surgery? Charlie does a great job of explaining the great gelding's experience with colic in this video, courtesy of The Paulick Report.

So, yes, Wise Dan is a survivor of colic surgery but, if Charlie LoPresti's description is medically accurate, his recovery would be not be as complicated as a horse whose intestines had been surgically altered. But he did still have the impact of a surgical incision, examination, and general anesthesia.

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Video: Saddle Fit Tip: Balance

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