Retired Race Horse Recovers from Laminitis

Newsdate: Wed, 23 Feb 2011 - 10:20 am
Location: COALINGA, California

Two-time Grade 1 winner Thorn Song, whose severe case of laminitis prompted his former owner to file an insurance mortality claim on him, has recovered enough to enter stud this year at John Harris’s Harris Farms in California.

The 8-year-old Thorn Song will stand for $3,500 and cover a limited book of mares, said Harris farms manager Dave McGlothlin.

“He’s definitely got his limitations,” McGlothlin said. “The laminitis was so severe that he’s only out of his stall to be hand-walked for 20 minutes twice a day. It’s very delicate as far as being able to cover mares, so we’ll limit his book and take our time with him.”

McGlothlin said the farm hasn’t set a number for Thorn Song’s book yet. The horse currently is learning how to breed comfortably, McGlothlin said.

Thorn Song earned more than $1.1 million for Ahmed Zayat’s Zayat Stables in five seasons at the racetrack. He won four stakes, all graded, including the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile and Shoemaker Mile in 2008 and 2009, respectively. He also placed in three other graded stakes, most notably finishing third in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland in 2008.

Thorn Song bolted toward the outside rail during the 2009 Eddie Read Handicap and veterinarians later found he had a partially ruptured deep digital flexor tendon, according to court documentation involving Zayat’s eventual insurance claim. Shipped to Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center, the horse developed severe laminitis. On Oct. 19, 2009, his insurers, North American Specialty Insurance Company, paid out a $2.75 million mortality claim after Dr. Van Snow determined his condition was likely incurable. But another clinic veterinarian, Dr. Doug Herthel, convinced the insurer that a new treatment regimen involving stem cell therapy might save Thorn Song’s life.

McGlothlin said that veterinarians at Alamo Pintado used stem cells to regrow Thorn Song’s entire left front hoof but noted that both of the laminitis-affected feet still require great care.

“He has a real bright eye,” added McGlothlin, who said Thorn Song seems so far to be adjusting well to life at Harris Farms. “He’s a real trooper. I hope six months from now we can talk about the great book of mares he’s covered, but we’re taking it one day at a time right now.”

Thorn Song is out of the unraced Storm Bird mare Festal and is her first stakes winner.

About the Author

Flossie Sellers

As an animal lover since childhood, Flossie was delighted when Mark, the CEO and developer of EquiMed asked her to join his team of contributors.

She enrolled in My Horse University at Michigan State and completed a number of courses in everything related to horse health, nutrition, diseases and conditions, medications, hoof and dental care, barn safety, and first aid.

Staying  up-to-date on the latest developments in horse care and equine health is now a habit, and she enjoys sharing a wealth of information with horse owners everywhere..