It seems impossible to think that a little more than four months ago Kip Deville, the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) victor and four-time grade I winner, was in seemingly fine health and competing in a graded stakes race at Saratoga.
Now, the 6-year-old son of Kipling —the horse that put prominent Thoroughbred owners IEAH Stables on the map—is fighting for his life. And unfortunately, at this point, it seems like it is a losing battle.
According to IEAH president Mike Iavarone, Kip Deville’s health struggles surfaced about two months ago, beginning with what was thought to be a routine bout of colic. But over time, the colic progressed into the troublesome foot disease laminitis—which can be loosely described as an inflammation of the hoof that in many cases causes lameness and severe deterioration of the foot. At that point, Kip Deville was moved to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital near Lexington and is currently being cared for by Dr. Scott Hopper.
In a Dec. 9 interview, Iavarone said Kip Deville’s condition has not improved.
“He is still in extremely guarded condition,” commented Iavarone, who said the laminitis is mainly in the left front foot. “The laminitis has progressed, unfortunately. We’re doing everything humanly possible, but he is in critical condition.
“He is in pain but is not suffering. He is on his feet as much as he is off his feet, but he is smart enough to know when he needs to take weight off it. We are watching him closely every day for signs of improvement, but unfortunately, as we’ve seen in these cases, the odds are against him. We haven’t seen the kinds of improvements we’ve hoped for so far.”
Bred in Oklahoma by Center Hills Farm and out of the Encino mare Klondike Kaytie, Kip Deville was purchased by a group led by IEAH in June 2006 and went on to win three graded stakes over the next 10 months, including the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita in early 2007. His remarkable season ended in October with an upset victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Monmouth Park.
The gray/roan horse recorded his final win on Feb. 1 of this year in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT). He has earned $3,325,489 from 30 starts, 12 of which were wins (10 in stakes company), making him the leading Oklahoma-bred earner of all time. IEAH announced his retirement on Nov. 12.
“This is excruciating,” Iavarone said. “The whole thing is a nightmare. We can only keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. This horse is like family, and we will spare no expense to see he gets the best treatment available. He means everything to us. But we will not let him suffer. We will do the humane thing for him, one way or another.”