02/19/2013 05:26 pm ET Updated Apr 21, 2013

Champion Rachel Alexandra Recovering From Emergency Surgery

2009 Horse of the Year and Champion 3-year-old Filly, now broodmare, Rachel Alexandra is recuperating after emergency abdominal surgery.

The superstar mare birthed her second foal, a Bernardini filly, in the early hours of Feb. 12, at Stonestreet Farm, in Lexington, Ky. Monitored round the clock since the foaling, Rachel Alexandra started showing signs of dullness and discomfort Wednesday mid-afternoon. According to Stonestreet spokesperson Amy Kearns, Rachel had been doing well after delivering the massive 140-pound foal and they were looking forward to the mare and foal going outside for the first time.

Instead, once Rachel's uneasiness was observed, she and her filly were shipped directly to Rood & Riddle, a full-service equine hospital. It was determined that there was fluid in her abdomen and exploratory surgery would be needed to ascertain its source, likely an infection. explains:

"In an update on the mare's condition, Rood and Riddle said in a statement Feb. 14 that Rachel Alexandra is currently receiving IV antibiotics, IV fluids, anti-inflammatory agents, IV nutrition, and medications to counteract the effects of bacterial toxins. Medications are also being administered to aid in the prevention of scar tissue in the abdominal cavity. A standing abdominal lavage using abdominal drains placed at surgery is also being performed several times a day.

Her condition is very serious but it is too early to give an accurate prognosis, the statement said.

Dr. Brett Woodie, the attending surgeon on the case, said in a Feb. 14 press conference that the mare is doing 'the best that can be expected.'


Surgery identified that the cause of the infection was a section of the small colon that had lost its blood supply due to an injury during foaling causing bacteria to be released into the abdomen. The damaged section of intestine was removed and extensive abdominal lavage was performed to remove inflammatory cells and bacteria. Due to the nature and the extent of the problem the surgery was long and technically demanding but recovery from anesthesia was uncomplicated."

Bonnie Barr, VMD, is quarterbacking Rachel's recovery. Rachel will not be bred this year; it is unknown how this condition will impact her future as a broodmare.

On a bright note, Rachel's newborn filly is doing well. In fact, she was moving around the stall at Rood & Riddle. Once the surgery was determined, the filly was sent back to Stonestreet Farm where she was introduced to a nurse mare. Kearns confirmed that the pair are adjusting well and the filly had a "big belly full of milk." The nurse mare will take over all matron duties until the filly is weaned in the months ahead.

When asked about Jess's Dream aka Taco, Rachel's first foal, Kearns said he is out living life as a horse in a herd of his contemporaries. I found some pictures she had sent me last summer of Taco and his pal Chili. Check them out in the slideshow below... along with some shots of Rachel, Curlin (Taco's sire) and Jess Jackson, founder of it all.

Taco, Summer 2012