Two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan was taken to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital near Lexington May 16 for emergency colic surgery, from which he emerged in good order according to trainer Charlie LoPresti.
The six-time Eclipse Award winner began to show signs of colic after a routine gallop at Keeneland the morning of May 16, and was transported to Rood & Riddle shortly therafter. Dr. Scott Hopper performed the surgery, LoPresti said.
"He had a routine gallop, trained great this morning, and about an hour after training he started acting like he was uncomfortable," the trainer explained. "We medicated him and he didn't respond. The vets at the track treated him for colic and he didn't have any gut sounds, which is a telltale sign. Once we got him over to Rood & Riddle, they ultrasounded him and the vet saw a piece of small intestine he didn't like."
The 7-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding did not respond to attempts to ease the issue naturally.
"We got him out on the lunge rein and tried to jog him around and he didn't work out of it," LoPresti said.
LoPresti finally left Rood & Riddle after an eventful day with the 10-time grade I winner, who came through surgery and recovery without any serious complications.
"When I left him, he was banging around on his hay net and kind of poking around, rubbing at some straw," the trainer said. "He was still pretty groggy and a little bit limber-legged. Hopefully he doesn't have recurring colic; if it happens again obviously that's a problem, but he should recover fine. They told me they would not give him any feed at all through the night and then if he got through the night without any complications, then they'd let him start eating something."
While Wise Dan was still in surgery, LoPresti called the issue "the best-case scenario for colic" after Hopper was able to investigate. He said after 3-5 days, the champion should be able to return to his home base at Keeneland, "where he's used to his natural environment."
"He had a piece of small bowel that just looped over it (and) was getting inflamed," LoPresti said. "If we didn't go in there and do it, he would have lost blood supply and it would have been a bad scenario; the only way to fix it was to do it this way."
Hopper expects Wise Dan to spend about 6-8 weeks on the sidelines at the most, but the incident should not prevent him from coming back to run again as long as he progresses well through recovery.
"I said, 'I don't care if he races again as long as you save his life,'" LoPresti said he told Hopper. "He said he doesn't think that's going to be an issue. I don't think it's career-ending."
Wise Dan, bred by owner Morton Fink out of the Wolf Power mare Lisa Danielle, won the past two editions of the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) and recently repeated victory in the May 3 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs. He has earnings of $6,802,920 with 21 wins and 2 seconds from 29 starts.