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Sailor's Cap Necropsy Identifies Colitis-X

Deadly bacteria caused cardia arrest.

The initial necropsy report on Team Valor’s Sailor's Cap, who died suddenly in his stall three days after winning the June 14 Poker Stakes (gr. IIIT), showed that he died of probable cardiac arrest caused by colitis-X.

According to The Horse magazine (, Merck Veterinary Manual says colitis-X is a peracute, fatal disease of horses that is "characterized by sudden onset of profuse watery diarrhea and development of hypovolemic shock (a condition where there are abnormally low levels of blood plasma in the body, such that the body is unable to properly maintain blood pressure, cardiac output of blood, and normal amounts of fluid in the tissues). Many affected horses have a history of stress. The cause of colitis-X is unknown, although multiple causes have been proposed, including peracute salmonellosis, clostridial enterocolitis, and endotoxemia."

The necropsy was performed at the New Bolton Research Center in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Bred by a Team Valor partnership and raced by the Kentucky-based stable, Sailor’s Cap was a lightly raced 4-year-old that just seemed to be coming into his own under the careful stewardship of trainer Jimmy Toner.

Last season, he was among the best 3-year-olds on grass, winning the $600,000 Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIT) in a driving rainstorm and finishing a solid third behind Gio Ponti and Court Vision in the Virginia Derby (gr. IIIT). He was given a long rest after a difficult round trip from East to West Coast for the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT).

In the one-mile Poker, Sailor’s Cap, exploding off the stretch curve to pass Kip Deville, opened a clear lead at the eighth-pole and went on to score by 1 1/4 lengths.

In 10 career outings, the homebred son of Distant View won four times and earned more than $616,000.

Sailor’s Cap was produced by the Caveat mare Wave On, a daughter of Hot Option, a filly raced by a partnership formed by Barry Irwin in the late 1980s. The grade III Honeymoon winner was considered by Irwin to be the best domestically raced female ever to carry his stable’s silks.