Claiborne Farm stallion Unbridled has made steady progress this week from two surgeries, the first to remove a mass which proved to be benign, the second to repair a hole near the bowel resection point. Claiborne manager Gus Koch said Thursday morning Unbridled "has overcome a lot of problems, is bright, and much stronger."
Unbridled, 14, remains at Hagyard-Davidson-McGee veterinary clinic near Lexington under the supervision of the medical staff there. Koch has visited him on a daily basis.
To recount the events of this week, Koch said: "On Monday morning, Dr. (Doug) Byars scanned him and found an accumulation of fluid. He put in a stomach tube and drained the fluid. That draining, or refluxing, had to be done repeatedly Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Basically they put in a tube to pass the stomach, pass in a little water, create a siphon, and siphon it off every couple of hours.
"Finally, the bowel started working," Koch continued. "They were able to take the stomach tube out. Now we're at the point where we can reintroduce him to feed to see how the bowel works. He is still getting nutrients through an IV, still is getting fluids that way.
"We took him out and let him get a couple of bites of grass. His attitude is much better."
Koch cautioned that although Unbridled has shown improvement, "We have to be cautious. It has been a very bumpy road. We're not through yet."
Unbridled had a tumor-like mass removed on Sept. 21. Over three feet of his colon was removed and his bowel was resected. A pathology report showed the tumor was not cancerous. He had a setback in his recovery Sept. 26 and was operated on a second time the following day.
On Sept. 26, Unbridled began running intermittent fever and fluid was draining into his abdomen. The following day, the fever subsided, but the fluid continued to drain.
A decision was made to open him up again and that was done at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 27. In an 80-minute procedure, Dr. Bob Hunt found what he described to Koch as " 'a pencil eraser-sized hole where the site of the original surgery was...where it was resected.' "
Hunt had performed the first surgery along with Dr. Paul Thorpe.
At that point, Koch said: "It's pretty touch-and-go. We've got three main things to watch for: one, this has to hold this time; two, there is the problem of laminitis because of the toxins in his system; and three, to watch for adhesions on the colon."
Unbridled was taken to the same clinic on Sept. 3, 2000 after experiencing signs of colic. The veterinarians found a thickening of the large colon wall and there was significant blockage of bile from the bile duct. He returned to Claiborne and had a normal breeding season.
He experienced some colic-like symptoms this summer and then was examined at Claiborne by Dr. Byars and Dr. Kim Sprayberry.
The 1990 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner is the sire of 23 stakes winners. He began his stud career at Gainesway Farm and moved to the Hancock family's Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky., for the 1997 breeding season. He was syndicated by Claiborne president Seth Hancock into 40 shares worth $475,000 each, a value of $19 million. His stud fee this year was $200,000.