The condition of USA Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra remains serious but stable as she continues to recover from surgery related to foaling complications last week.
Her new Bernardini filly continues to do well under the care of a nurse mare at Stonestreet Farm in Kentucky. The filly, who was foaled early Tuesday, has bonded strongly with her nurse mare Miss Beutiful Ojos. She will now remain with that mare until she is weaned.
“Rachel’s condition remains serious and she will need her strength as she fights to recover,” Stonestreet said in a press release on Saturday. “Even if she were able to return to her foal, her milk production would have ceased.”
Rachel Alexandra began showing signs of distress on the afternoon after delivering the filly, her second foal, on February 12. The seven year-old Medaglia d’Oro mare was rushed to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington where exploratory abdominal surgery revealed a damaged area in her small colon, injured during foaling, which led to a bacterial infection. Surgeons removed the damaged section of the small colon and successfully re-attached the two remaining ends.
“The mare remained bright and alert with normal vital signs, according to a release from Stonestreet. “Although Rachel’s condition remains serious, attending veterinarians Dr. Bonnie Barr and Dr. Brett Woodie are encouraged by her progress to this point,” Stonestreet said. “She was able to receive a small amount of solid feed on Saturday.”
No long-term prognosis has yet been discussed by veterinarians.
Rachel Alexandra’s filly returned to Stonestreet on Wednesday night and was hand-fed until Miss Beutiful Ojos arrived at the farm the next day. The two horses were introduced without incident and bonded quickly. The filly has been in good health throughout the week and has begun enjoying paddock turnout with her surrogate dam.
Stonestreet said in the release that Miss Beutiful Ojos, a Quarter Horse, has served as a nurse mare at the farm before.
“Miss Beutiful Ojos is both very sweet and a great milk producer, two of the most important nurse mare qualities. In those difficult situations in which we have to call in a nurse mare, Stonestreet draws upon a very select network of farms we trust to provide well-tempered and disease-free mares, while ensuring proper care for the nurse mare’s foal as well.”
Miss Beutiful Ojos had produced a filly on Wednesday, and remained with her foal long enough for the filly to nurse and receive colostrum, important antibody-rich first milk that helps newborn foals fend off diseases.
“This is something Ojos’ owner is very firm about,” Stonestreet said in the release. Miss Beutiful Ojos’ filly, a reining or cutting horse prospect, is also healthy and will now be hand-raised.”
Rachel Alexandra herself was raised by a nurse mare after her own dam, Lotta Kim, rejected her as a foal.
Rachel Alexandra produced her first foal, a colt by two-time Horse of the Year Curlin now named Jess’s Dream, in January 2012. Shortly afterward, the mare made what was termed a “precautionary” trip to Rood and Riddle for pain management. The colt remained with her during the three-day stay at the clinic, and she continued to raise him until he was weaned last summer. Woodie said the mare’s two troubled foalings are likely not related.
Rachel Alexandra was the first foal out of Lotta Kim, a stakes-winning Roar mare, and is her dam’s only starter to date. The mare’s second foal, an Empire Maker colt named Empire Ruler, died as a two year-old due to wobbler’s syndrome.
Lotta Kim, who at one point battled an infection, did not produce another surviving foal until the birth of a full sister to Rachel Alexandra in 2011. T he filly, named Samantha Nicole, was purchased for $700,000 by Stonestreet at the 2012 Keeneland November Sale.
Woodie said Rachel Alexandra’s medical troubles are not indicative of any hereditary problems.