Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Sue Kawczynski
When I asked my friends on social media to, “please tell me what a Paynter victory in the Woodward would mean to either you/his legacy/or the sport,” the response was immediate. Heartfelt answers came rolling in, and while Paynter is only a horse, and the Woodward is just a race, it is clear that he transcends sport. Paynter is an embodiment of so many positive things for fans of horses and racing, that I don’t think I would be overreaching by saying that each of us carries a little bit of Paynter within. Whether he wins or loses on Saturday matters little compared to the fact that we simply have this wonderful equine symbol still very much with us. The fact that he has a great chance to win on one of the biggest stages racing can provide, is mere icing on the cake.
From the inspirational, to his place in history; from the spiritual, to the boost for the industry; from the feisty, to a shining example of medical advancement; and finally to the love, please enjoy, as I step aside, and let your words carry us into the night...
Melissa Nolan “Legacy through his validation of vet medicine progress on laminitis. We went from Barbaro to Paynter in what 6 years? Huge!”
Kim Langston ”Never give up, Never give in, Believe in the power of prayer. This guy reminds me that miracles do happen. Power Up! listen to the horse...he will tell you what he needs & what he wants to do. Let industry recognize need for transparency.”
Dave Z. “Paynter is the Tommy John of Horse racing. What once ended careers and lives is now a difficult, yet do-able, rehab stint.”
Liz O'Connell “A triumph of veterinary care and patience, what couldn't be done, can be done.”
Christopher Lally “Tell me you didn't cry a little as Justin and his dad tweeted and posted hour by hour updates while Paynter's life was hanging by a gossamer. His journey is heroic. His life a living testament to the relationship between humans and their horses. His doctor didn't leave his side. She believed in him with all her heart. That either matters or it doesn't. I like to believe it matters.”
Tom Dubrick “Testimony to character, trainer and prayers.”
Domenic ”Would be huge win for the entire team, especially the caregivers. Personal = I saw Paynter at FairHill. He had a certain/special "look".
Lexie Crowson “Living Miracle!”
Mike Moss “Not only is this a miracle and a happy ending (regardless of his finish), but what it means to me is this: Don't give up on a horse that is injured. As owners, you have responsibility to your horse. He or she is giving everything for you, do the same in return. Paynter is the perfect example of this. And I'm not just talking about getting back to the track and racing, I'm talking about saving the horse's life!”
Dawn Deems “Paynter's grit and courage inspires me. His owners never gave up on him, and they are allowing him to do what he loves. I think the best is yet to come, and I believe he races in memory of all we've lost too soon.”
Amy Spear “A victory by Paynter means the world to me that his owners let him fight his illness and they let him decide to retire or race. Sharing him and his condition with his fans in good and bad is great for racing.”
Lori Hahn “A win in the Woodward would be a testament to the heart of the owners, the trainers, and the heart of the horse itself, Paynter. The sport does care about it's athletes.”
Michael Armstrong “Faith, hope, and love of all involved. Horse, jockey, trainer, owner and millions of fans.”
Chris Graniti “Easy...Redemption and everybody loves a comeback story!”
John Byrd “This victory would be dedicated to those whom would otherwise have picked up a syringe and quit. Stick it in your own butt next time.”
Patti Henker “It would be nice to have something so positive in the spotlight for racing rather than all the sad stories and shady goings on that seem to get all the attention lately.”
Maria from Mallard Creek “Same thing Seabiscuit taught us. Anything is possible.”
Dani Crawford “His victory would be in memory and in honor and in tribute to all those beautiful horses who didn't win the battles they had with laminitis and colic. May God bless their souls.”
Michele Hope “Paynter's story is inspirational on many levels and his ability to fight and overcome obstacles is incredible. Whether he was fighting for a victory on the track or fighting for his life off the track. Tenacious and all heart. He embodies everything that is magnificent about a Thoroughbred.”
And last, but certainly not least, happens to be the very first response I received to my question. I believe you all know the author of this one...
Justin Zayat “MY LIFE”
In conclusion, I would like to say exactly what I said one year ago … Godspeed, Paynter!