Sunday Silence after winning the 1989 Kentucky Derby.

Sunday Silence after winning the 1989 Kentucky Derby.

Skip Dickstein

Sunday Silence Still Fighting; Insurance Vet Exam on Monday

The word on Sunday Silence remains grim, the mood at Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido less than optimistic.

"He's getting progressively worse," said office head and press liaison Eisuke Tokutake, who is fielding inquiries on the stallion from around the world. "He hasn't lain down since Monday. That and putting his weight on his hind legs is taking a lot out of him."

"The infection in the right leg gets better and then worse and he continues to put weight onto the left leg, the one with the laminitis. He has an appetite and his eyes are still clear and bright."

A senior vet from the insurance company is scheduled for a visit Monday, according to Tokutake, who says Katsumi Yoshida, owner of Northern Horse Farm, is seen at the barn every day, where a crew watches Sunday Silence round the clock. Fans, too, continue their vigil, sending postcards of encouragement and gifts to the staff members. Sunday Silence has received get-well flowers.

"Things are a bit quieter now," Tokutake said Friday, following a report the previous day in a Japanese paper saying the stallion's condition had stabilized somewhat. Earlier in the week, the Stallion Station was accustomed to receiving messages of outrage, such as the postcard saying "Don't kill Sunday Silence," and suggestions on how to best counter evil spirits and bad luck.

"We're still getting all sorts of advice from here and abroad about what he should eat and so and people calling to say they'll introduce people who can offer prayers and spiritual help."

"We've had letters saying we should all be strong and not let this get us down, that Sunday is a horse that's overcome all sorts of difficulties and that he'll get over this too. 'Don't give up', that's what the letters are saying," Tokutake says.

"Sunday is really fighting, trying to take the weight off his legs and eating. So, if we look beyond the medical aspect of things and see how he's battling this spiritually and mentally, we really want to believe in him. We want to stand behind him,'' Tokutake says. "But his legs, they're in bad shape. They're not something you'd want to look at."