Image courtesy of Horsephotos.com
By Claire Novak, @BH_CNovak
Haskell Invitational (gr. I) winner Paynter will ship Dec. 29 from Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center near Elkton, Md., to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert's California barn, owner Ahmed Zayat confirmed Dec. 26—the same day it was announced the colt had won the 2012 Secretariat Vox Populi Award.
Paynter, a 3-year-old son of Awesome Again , has been recovering in Maryland from surgery undergone Oct. 3 at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center of Veterinary Medicine to remove an abscessed area of his colon. The abscess was discovered when Paynter developed an illness that landed him first in a New Jersey clinic, then at the Upstate Equine Medical Center in New York, after he ran second to Union Rags in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and won the Haskell.
According to Zayat, the colt will be on a direct flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport. Zayat said he and his family will greet Paynter upon his arrival.
Zayat and his son Justin kept fans informed about Paynter's progress via their respective Twitter accounts, @jazz3162 and @justinzayat. Fans voted for Paynter to recieve the Vox Populi award. His victory was announced by Penny Chenery Dec. 26.
Paynter was a late addition to the list of Vox Populi nominees after fans objected when he was missing from the first round selected by judges. The other nominees for the award, which will be presented at Santa Anita Park Dec. 29, were Frankel, I'll Have Another , Royal Delta, Shackleford , Shanghai Bobby, and Wise Dan.
Paynter also garnered a nomination for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's "Moment of the Year" fan poll, open until Jan. 2.