Santa Anita Stable Notes Sunday, January 17, 2021

  • AX MAN TO RETURN IN GRADE III PALOS VERDES
  • CHILEAN-BRED MAKES U.S. DEBUT IN MEGAHERTZ
  • CENTENO WINS FIRST STAKES ON BRICKYARD RIDE
  • JOHN SHEAR CELEBRATES 100TH BIRTHDAY TODAY

REFRESHED AX MAN COMES BACK IN PALOS VERDES

Ax Man, who has not raced since last July when he was fourth of five behind stablemate Maximum Security in the Grade II San Diego Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, returns this Saturday in the Grade III Palos Verdes Stakes for four-year-olds and up at six furlongs.

He also is nominated to next Sunday’s $70,000 Clockers’ Corner Stakes at six furlongs on turf. He was fourth in that race last year.

A six-year-old gelded son of the Candy Ride stallion Misremembered, Ax Man has been firing bullets for his return, among them a five-furlong drill in 57.80 on Jan. 2 and another at that distance of 58.80 yesterday.

Misremembered, trained by Bob Baffert for his wife, Jill, and George Jacobs, won the Santa Anita Handicap in 2010.

“Ax Man lost interest, so I backed off and freshened him up,” Baffert said in explaining the absence of more than five months.

Owned by long-time Baffert clients Patti and Hal Earnhardt III, Ax Man, who was bred in Kentucky by Hal, has six wins from 14 career starts with earnings of $297,917.

 

BROOKE MAKES U.S. DEBUT IN MONDAY’S MEGAHERTZ

Brooke, a Chilean-bred mare who was a monster in her native country, gong off as the odds-on favorite in six of her seven races, winning five, makes her United States debut in Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday feature, the Grade III Megahertz Stakes.

“She’s been training very forwardly,” said Simon Callaghan, who conditions the five-year-old chestnut for the Don Alberto Stable. “I’ve had her for three or four months. The owners thought she would like the firm turf in California, which is why they sent her here.

“Hopefully she can add to her resume.”

Brooke will once again be ridden by jockey Jeremy Laprida, who has been aboard in each of her eight career starts, including her most recent, a ninth-place finish in a field of 17 on a heavy turf course at one mile in Argentina’s Group 2 Longines Cup last March 20.

“He’s ridden her in Chile and the owners wanted him for her first race here,” Callaghan said of Laprida, who has ridden in the U.S. at Parx in Bensalem, Pa., 19 miles northeast of Philadelphia.

Megahertz was a diminutive chestnut mare bred in England who gained popularity with racing fans thanks her small size and big stretch runs against top company.

Trained by the late Bobby Frankel for owner Michael Bello, Megahertz was a multiple graded stakes winner on turf compiling a 14-6-5 record from 34 starts, earning $2,261,594.

The Megahertz is for fillies and mares four and up at one mile on turf. It is race seven of nine with a 12:30 p.m. first post time.

The field:

Brooke, Jeremy Laprida, 4-1;

$2,000 supplemental nominee Colonial Creed, Flavien Prat, 7-2;

$2,000 supplemental nominee Lucky Peridot, Abel Cedillo, 8-1;

Mucho Unusual, Joel Rosario, 9-5;

Hippodamia’s Girl, Juan Hernandez, 8-1;

Sedamar, Umberto Rispoli, 5-2.

APPRENTICE CENTENO CAPTURES FIRST STAKES VICTORY

Alexis Centeno, a 22-year-old apprentice rider from Puerto Rico, won his first stakes race Saturday piloting Brickyard Ride to a front-running victory in the $150,000 Don Valpredo California Cup Sprint.

“First, I want to thank God and (trainer) Craig Lewis who has helped me a lot, and my agent,” Centeno said immediately after the victory. “I’m happy . . . Brickyard Ride is so special for me. I won two races in a row with him. I love this horse.”

Centeno is represented by 22-year-old agent Erick “Goldy” Arroyo. They have been together since last June.

“He works hard and he’s a humble kid,” Arroyo said of Centeno, who attended Puerto Rico’s celebrated jockey school, Escuela Vocacional Hipica, which has produced riding greats Angel Cordero Jr., Eddie Belmonte, John Velazquez and the Ortiz brothers, Irad Jr. and Jose, among others.

Arroyo was studying business at Pasadena City College before taking a respite to work as an agent. His long-range goal is to become a teacher.

As to how he got the nickname of Goldy, Arroyo explains, “When I was born my father thought my forehead shined like gold, and said, “That’s it. From now on, you’re Goldy.”

FINISH LINES: Santa Anita today congratulates loyal and dedicated Paddock Captain John Shear on the occasion of his 100th birthday with the sixth race named in his honor. Shear has been unable to attend Santa Anita since last March, when furloughed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I enjoy watching on television but nothing compares to being at Santa Anita,” said Shear, a native of England who has been employed at Santa Anita since 1961. The four-foot, 11-inch former exercise rider gained national attention nine years ago when at the age of 91 he heroically threw himself between an on-rushing loose horse and a five-year-old girl who was standing with her father outside of Santa Anita’s Seabiscuit walking ring . . . Trainer/breeder Kristin Mulhall‘s “Miracle Horse” Catemaco worked five furlongs at Santa Anita this morning in 1:02.60. It was one of 148 recorded workouts including 14 on the training track . . .Agent George Bradvica is now handling the business of 10-pound apprentice Emily Ellingwood and journeyman Brice Blanc…First post time on Monday is 12:30 p.m.

Stablemates Quick & Hermaphrodite Separated By Nose After Mile & One Half On Turf As Sadler Runs One-Two In Grade III, $100, 000 Astra Stakes

STABLEMATES QUICK & HERMAPHRODITE SEPARATED BY NOSE AFTER MILE & ONE HALF ON TURF AS SADLER RUNS ONE-TWO IN GRADE III, $100,000 ASTRA STAKES 

 

IN HIS LONE APPEARANCE OF THE DAY, RISPOLI REGISTERS HIS FOURTH STAKES WIN OF THE MEET

                ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 17, 2021)–In the midst of a four-day riding suspension, Umberto Rispoli had but one mount on Sunday at Santa Anita and he made it count.  In a furious stretch drive aboard the 9-5 favorite Quick, he held off her stablemate Hermaphrodite and Joel Rosario by a nose, giving Hronis Racing, LLC and John Sadler a one-two finish in the marathon Grade III, $100,000 Astra Stakes, which Rispoli was eligible to compete in as it is a designated race.  With a hillside start, the Astra, at a mile and one half on turf, was run in 2:27.71.

                 In-hand while a joint third outside of her stablemate as the field came out of the Club House turn for its run up the backside, Quick was about two lengths off pacesetter Aunt Lubie.  At the 3 ½ furlong mark, Rispoli stepped on the gas and was three-wide turning for home outside Aunt Lubie and Carpe Vinum.  From there, English-bred Quick gained the advantage, while French-bred Hermaphrodite had to wait for room at the rail.

                 This proved the difference, as Quick survived by a diminishing nose right on the money.

                 “Pace was not that fast, so I had to make a decision to move,” said Rispoli, who is now tied with Rosario with a meet-leading four stakes wins through 12 racing days.  “I knew where I sat and I know her, she could go through.  She’s a galloper, when she moved again, I got lucky it was by the wire.  Sometimes you need luck in these things.

                 “…It’s always a pleasure, it’s probably not nice for him to hear it, but it’s always a pleasure to beat a jockey like (Rosario).  He’s so respectful, so nice.  I asked him after the wire, ‘Did you get me?’ because my head was down, and I was just focusing to try to win the race.  He said ‘No, no, you got it.’”

                 A solid third going a mile and three eighths on turf in the Grade III Red Carpet Handicap at Del Mar Nov. 26, Quick, a 5-year-old mare by Olympic Glory, broke through the starting gate prior to the break but she remained the favorite in a field of nine older fillies and mares, returning $5.80, $3.60 and $2.80.

                 “She got the trip she needed today,” said Juan Leyva, assistant to Sadler.  “She got to relax, not be on the front end.  She settled well and got a perfect trip.  I think our other filly (runner-up Hermaphrodite) might have been a little better, but it worked out great, we ran one-two.”

                 In garnering her first graded stakes win, Quick, who made her US debut here on Feb. 1, 2020, has now won two of her nine starts with Sadler and is 16-4-5-3 overall.  With the winner’s share of $60,000, she increased her earnings to $172,935.

                 Hermaphrodite saved ground at the rail throughout, but lacked room when it counted, from the quarter pole to the eighth pole, and indeed finished as though she may’ve been best.  The 4-1 second choice, she finished 2 ¼ lengths in front of a late running Altea and paid $4.80 and $3.20.

                 Ridden by Abel Cedillo, Altea outran Lucky Peridot by a half length and paid $3.80 to show.

                Fractions on the race were 23.98, 48.25, 1:13.59, 1:39.18 and 2:03.40.

                 First post time for a nine-race card on Monday is at 12:30 p.m.

Pegasus World Cup Week Kicks Off Wednesday

 

Rainbow 6 Jackpot Pool Guaranteed at $750,000
Pegasus, Pegasus Turf PP Draw Set for Wednesday
Irad Ortiz Jr. Rides Five Winners Sunday  

 

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Pegasus Week at Gulfstream Park will kick off Wednesday with a guaranteed jackpot pool of $750,000 for the 20-cent Rainbow 6.

The popular multi-race wager went unsolved for the sixth racing day in a row following a Jan. 9 mandatory payout. Multiple tickets with six winners were each worth $16,505.56 Sunday.

The jackpot pool is only paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.

There will also be a Super Hi-5 carryover of $5,815.06.

Entries for next Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) and $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) will be taken Wednesday. The post-position draw will be livestreamed at 11:45 a.m. on gulfstreampark.com.

The Pegasus and Pegasus Turf will be featured on a 12-race program with five supporting stakes, including the $200,000 Inside Information (G2), the $125,000 Fred W. Hooper (G3), the $150,000 W. L. McKnight (G3), the $125,000 Marshua’s River (G3) and the $125,000 La Prevoyante. First-race post time Saturday is set for 11:40 a.m.

Leading up to Pegasus World Cup Day, there will be a $97,891.79 carryover for Friday’s Stronach 5 multi-race, multi-track wager.

WHO’S HOT:  Two-time defending Championship Meet titlist Irad Ortiz Jr. rode five winners on Sunday’s program, scoring aboard Templet ($8.40) in Race 3, Snackster ($25) in Race 6, Traffic Pattern ($3.80) in Race 7, and Zanno ($5.60) in Race 9 before capping his big day with a victory aboard Bohemian Boy ($7.40) in Race 12.

Sleepy Eyes Todd Delivers Pegasus Dream to Silva

GULFSTREAM PARK, FLORIDA

Versatile Runner to Compete in $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) 

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Some 12 months after trainer Miguel Angel Silva first thought Sleepy Eyes Todd ought to be considered for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1), he is preparing his star for the fifth running of the race on Jan. 23 at Gulfstream Park.

It is something of a better-late-than-never scenario for the Silva and the 5-year-old son of Paddy O’Prado owned by David Cobb’s Thumbs Up Stable.

By late 2019, Silva, 45, was confident that Sleepy Eyes Todd was a graded-stakes caliber horse. He had come back from a five-month layoff recovering from an injury to win three of four starts. The lone loss was a second to Owendale in the Oklahoma Derby (G3). One of the horses that Sleepy Eyes Todd finished ahead of in the Oklahoma Derby was Mucho Gusto, who went on to win the 2020 Pegasus. Silva said he called to see if Sleepy Eyes Todd might be invited to the 1 1/8 miles race.

“We were trying to get in but it was too late, I guess, and, we didn’t have the earnings to get into the race,” Silva said. “Finally, this year, it’s a dream come true.”

Sleepy Eyes Todd added to his resume in 2020, winning four stakes at different tracks and earning $540,760. The most recent of his wins was a half-length victory over Firenze Fire in the 7-furlong Mr. Prospector on Dec. 19 at Gulfstream Park. All eight of his 2020 starts were at different tracks.

In his first trip to a Thoroughbred auction, the November 2016 Keeneland Breeding Stock Sale, Cobb, a resident of Pleasanton, Calif., spent $9,000 on the weanling out of a Wild Rush mare who grew up to be Sleepy Eyes Todd. The colt made his debut at Remington Park in Oklahoma later in his 2-year-old year in 2018 and came from well off the pace win by a half-length at 29-1. He has won eight of his 15 career starts at 11 tracks and earned $744,825.

“The horse has been great,” Silva said. “He’s a sound horse. He’s beautiful. He is easy to manage. He lets you have fun. At the end of the day we are in this business to have fun.

This kind of horse gives you all that.”

Silva grew up in Mexico, where his father, also named Miguel Silva, was a famous trainer. After graduating from college with a degree in accounting, Silva entered the corporate world. It didn’t take him long to realize he wanted to return to horses and racing.

“I worked in some big companies in Mexico until I couldn’t take it anymore,” he said. “I’m just not a desk person.”

Twenty years ago, Silva emigrated to the U.S. and started working as a hot walker at the Bay Meadows Racecourse in San Mateo, Calif.

“I was there for a few years then moved to Arizona and worked there as a groom. I started climbing the ladder. I worked for the (farrier), the tattooer. Helped the vet. Everybody. I was trying to do it all until I was able to get my license.”

Silva launched his career early in 2009 with a one-horse stable. He acquired that first runner, Glitternmeporridge, by using his tax return to claim the gelding for $6,250.

“We won several races with the horse,” Silva said. “From there it has been an amazing ride.”

Now operating on circuit that takes him from Texas to Oklahoma, Arkansas, Minnesota and Louisiana, Silva entered 2021 with 722 wins from 4,209 starters. Thanks to Sleepy Eyes Todd, he had his best earnings year in 2020. Sleepy Eyes Todd gave him his first graded stakes wins, the Charles Town Classic (G2) and the Mr. Prospector. Silva has 43 horses in training at three tracks.

Instead of the Pegasus, Sleepy Eyes Todd opened his 2020 campaign in the John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes (G3) at Sam Houston. He ended up last in the field of 10.

“The turf race was a mistake on my part,” Silva said. “We ran him a mile and a half on the turf and the turf was really soft. For a first timer on the turf and a first timer going a mile and a half, I think that was on me.”

After Sleepy Eyes Todd finished sixth in the Mineshaft at Fair Grounds on Feb. 15, Silva decided to remove the blinkers. Since that equipment change, the horse has four wins, a second by a head in the Lone Star Millions and a tiring fifth in the Awesome Again (G1). Silva said the blinkers made sense for a while, but that after the two losses it was time for a change.

“He is too aware of what’s happening. He wants to see everything,” Silva said. “In the morning when we train him he can go to the track and stand for 20 minutes and just watch horses go by him and not move one inch. He just watches everything and wants to be aware. It’s something I took from him and he was asking me to give it back. I did.

“I always say that we lost that Oklahoma Derby because he never saw Owendale coming from far outside. When Mucho Gusto tried to put pressure on him and passed him, as soon he was able to see him, he came back and beat Mucho Gusto. He was asking for it and I was a little stubborn.”

Sleepy Eyes Todd has had a different jockey in each of his last nine races and that list will grow again when Jose Ortiz rides him in the Pegasus. While Silva said it is positive that the well-traveled horse has handled many tracks under an ever-changing lineup of jockeys, he said the downside is the lack of continuity can be a negative. Since his past performances show that he has speed, jockeys may try to put him in the race early. Silva said that approach hurt him in the Awesome Again.

“We believe that we don’t have the speed to beat those kinds of horses in the race, so we wanted to be in behind,” he said. “We were too close in that race.

Silva said the horse has matured and his versatility makes him effective coming from off the pace, the style he used in his last two races, both at seven furlongs. In the Lafayette on Nov. 7 at Keeneland he rallied from far back over a very fast track.

“Then we go to Florida in the same kind of race and tried not to be in the lead because they burn out,” Silva said. “Save the horse and finish strong. That’s what we like.”

With a win over the track in the Mr. Prospector and more experience, Silva said Sleepy Eyes Todd is ready for the Pegasus distance and another try in a prestigious Grade I race.

“I love the mile and an eighth,” Silva said. “He already won at that distance and he performed really good at that distance. We’re just hoping that we have a different kind of trip. We don’t want to be on the lead and hopefully we can pick up horses at the end.”

McGaughey has Three Shots at Pegasus Glory

Video

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey has a resume that includes a Kentucky Derby (G1), Belmont (G1), Florida Derby (G1), nine Breeders’ Cup championships and more than 100 Grade 1 victories.

Now he’s taking aim for the first time at the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational (G1) Saturday at Gulfstream Park with Code of Honor in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup and North Dakota and Breaking the Rules in the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf.

Code of Honor, a 5-year-old son Noble Mission who won the 2019 Travers (G1), has been “doing well” training at Payson Park and McGaughey believes he’ll appreciate the 1 1/8 mile distance of the Pegasus and a firm track.

In the wide-open Pegasus Turf, McGaughey will saddle North Dakota, coming into the race off a victory in the Red Smith (G3), and Breaking the Rules, third at Gulfstream Dec. 12 in the Fort Lauderdale (G2).

McGaughey spoke to Gulfstream host and analyst Acacia Courtney about his three horses and his chances in the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational.

FAIRGROUNDS NEWS

Lecomte Winner Midnight Bourbon Pointed to Risen Star

Silverbulletday Upsetter Charlie’s Penny Eyes Rachel Alexandra;

Cox looks ahead with beaten favorites Sun Path and Mandaloun

New Orleans (November 24, 2020) – Steve Asmussen’s assistant trainer Scott Blasi reports that Saturday’s Lecomte (G3) winner Midnight Bourbon came out of the race in fine order. Asmussen indicated following the win that the Winchell Thoroughbreds’ 3-year-old son of Tiznow would be pointed to the local $400,000 Risen Star (G2) at 1 1/8 miles on February 13. Midnight Bourbon earned 10 Kentucky Derby points for his Lecomte win and is currently third in the standings with 16 points.

According to trainer Chris Block, Lothenbach’s Stables’ Silverbulletday winner Charlie’s Penny also exited her race is excellent shape.

“So far everything looks good,” Block said. “She ate up last night and this morning, walked real well and she seems bright and not too knocked out. The next logical plan would be to point towards the Rachel Alexandra (G2, $300,000 at 1 1/16 miles on February 13 at Fair Grounds). What has pushed her forward is her mind and her determination. She’s not a very big filly, king of average in size and a little bit on the narrow side, but all that is relative to what she can do herself. Yesterday she was helped by the (slow) pace, but so was everybody else, or so I would have thought. She rose to the occasion, now it’s time to see if she can take the next step forward. It was really nice to win this race at Fair Grounds. My family used to send horses here for the winter with (the late) Richie Scherer, and management has been very kind to us.”

For her win, the Minnesota-bred daughter of Race Day earned ten points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.

Trainer Brad Cox reports that his pair of beaten favorites – Sun Path (4th in the Silverbulletday) and Mandaloun (3rd in the Lecomte) – exited their respective races in good order. Sun Path will be given some time to regroup, while Mandaloun is likely for an equipment change next time out.

“I was super disappointed with the outcome of the Silverbulletday,” Cox admitted. “We don’t see any physical issue with Sun Path. She appears to have come out of it well as of now. Obviously, we will back up a little bit. We won’t run back in four weeks. We’ll just try to train up to either the Honeybee (at Oaklawn Park) or the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2, March 20). They would really be our only options moving forward. We need a little more time between races. She’s going to be a little bit of a question mark until we run her again. She was doing so well leading up to this race (Silverbulletday).

“We still think he (Mandaloun) is a very good horse,” Cox said. “He raced wide around both turns. I thought it was a good experience. He showed up. He ran his race. I think we are going to add blinkers. I talked it over with the Juddmonte team and Florent (jockey Geroux). We kind of thought that ever since his first race. He came out it (Lecomte) so far so good. We will definitely look at coming back in the Risen Star.

“Gagetown raced well for his first time around two turns (second in a first level allowance earlier in the card),” Cox said. “Thought it was a good effort. Run was a little spotty. He was a little unsure of what was going on. It looked like he was going to be third, maybe even fourth, but he re-rallied and was actually running at the winner. He’s still trying to figure it out. I wanted to get two sprints into him since he broke his maiden first time. I don’t really think he’s a 6-furlong horse, but I’m not so certain he’s like a mile-and-an-eighth horse either. He’s somewhere there in the middle.”

Bris speed figures for Saturday’s “Road to the Derby Kickoff Day” Stakes winners:

Midnight Bourbon (Lecomte): 95

Charlie’s Penny (Silverbulletday): 88

Title Ready (Louisiana): 96

Logical Myth (Bradley): 94

Manny Wah (Kenner): 96

Secret Message (Krantz): 91

MARIO WATCH

Mario Gutierrez
Entries
January 18 – Santa Anita

Where’s Frankie Wgt-123 Race 1 Allowance Optional Claiming $50,000
Acai Wgt-124 Race 3 Claiming $25,000
Mangotango Wgt-124 Race 5 Maiden Claiming $50,000
January 22 – Santa Anita

Hockey Dad Wgt-123 Race 4 Maiden Special Weight
Malibu Jewel Wgt-122 Race 5 Maiden Claiming $40,000
Found My Ball Wgt-123 Race 7 Maiden Special Weight
Show Business Wgt-122 Race 8 Claiming $25,000

Results
January 17 – Santa Anita
Elgofranco finished 4th beaten 5 1/2 lengths Race 1 Chart
Juggles finished 4th beaten 3 3/4 lengths Race 3 Chart
Disko Fever finished 1st by 3 1/2 lengths Race 5 Chart
Gates of Heaven finished 2nd beaten 3 3/4 lengths Race 6 Chart
Leme At Em finished 9th beaten 9 1/2 lengths Race 9 Chart

What’s Plaguing Your ‘Problem Mare’?

Most mares get pregnant without major problems, but some encounter difficulties along the way. Here’s how to work with your veterinarian to resolve the most common issues.

What's Plaguing Your 'Problem Mare'?

If you’re struggling to get a mare pregnant, here’s how to work with your veterinarian to resolve the most common issues

 

Most mares get pregnant without major problems, but some encounter difficulties along the way. Breeders have a hard time getting certain mares in foal altogether, while other mares conceive but lose the pregnancy. The list of what can cause these reproductive issues is lengthy; when they occur, breeders and veterinarians must work together to determine the reason and find resolution.

Is She Truly a Problem Mare?

If a mare’s having difficulty conceiving, Karen Wolfsdorf, DVM, Dipl. ACT, field veterinarian and reproductive specialist at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute’s McGee Fertility Center, in Lexington, says the first thing to do is identify whether she’s actually a “problem mare.”

Consider, for instance, an 18-year-old mare that hasn’t had a foal in two years, was bred repeatedly to a fertile stallion, and is still not in foal. Then consider a 14-year-old mare that’s had multiple foals, foaled late in the season, and didn’t take after getting bred back once. Both are considered “barren mares,” says Wolfsdorf, but only the former is likely a true problem mare.

This is one of the reasons Wolfsdorf gets a history on a mare that’s struggling to conceive—to determine why. Has she had a dystocia, or difficult birth? Past postpartum ­complications?

“Besides her general background, we need to know if she’s been bred before, how old she is, if she’s ever had a foal, and if not, how many times was she bred?” adds Patrick McCue, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT, professor in Colorado State University’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory, in Fort Collins. “What type of semen was used—fresh, cooled, or frozen? How many cycles did they try? Pregnancy rates in mares may range from 40 to 60% per cycle, so not getting pregnant on the first or second cycle would not be grounds to think there is a reproductive problem.”

The next step is conducting a basic physical exam to ensure the mare’s healthy. This includes looking at body condition to make sure she’s not too thin or too fat and for signs of metabolic disease or other underlying health issues, Wolfsdorf says.

Then the veterinarian will likely perform a breeding soundness exam to assess perineal and vulval conformation, check the ovaries and uterus via transrectal palpation, and ultrasound the reproductive tract. Palpation and ultrasound will reveal the mare’s estrous cycle stage and indicate the optimal time to collect samples for uterine culture and cytology or even a uterine biopsy to identify infection.

The Top Troublemaker: Endometritis

Two types of endometritis (inflammation or infection of the uterus) are among the most common problems associated with getting mares pregnant: persistent mating-induced endometritis and infectious endometritis.

After being bred, mares naturally develop a mating-induced endometritis. This is a normal, short-lived inflammatory response to sperm deposited in the uterus that helps get rid of the dead sperm, bacteria, and inflammatory debris.

“A normal mare will have an inflammatory response, uterine contractions, and her uterus will clear within 24 hours post-breeding,” says Wolfsdorf. “Some mares, however, are more susceptible to endometritis if they have a saggy uterus and may not have (an) appropriate immune response post-breeding. Those mares are incapable of adequately contracting their uterus. This sets them up for a persistent mating-induced endometritis,” an environment that makes embryo survival difficult to impossible.

“With those mares, sometimes all you need to do is administer oxytocin, which helps contract the uterus, or a uterine lavage and then give oxytocin to help flush it out,” she continues. “If this doesn’t help, the mare may need further treatments. These can include platelet-rich plasma, acupuncture, or other, more intense therapies.”

Infectious endometritis, on the other hand, is usually associated with older mares with saggy uterine or poor perineal conformation due to having many foals.

Bacteria from outside can get into the vagina and go up through the cervix into the uterus. Sometimes these pathogens can hide, with bacteria or fungal organisms such as yeast causing endometritis or inflammation deep within the uterus.

“They may be hidden in mucus or in biofilm (a protective coating over a colony of bacteria) or deep within the endometrial tissue itself,” she says. Diagnostic tests veterinarians can use to locate and ID the pathogens include:

Endometrial biopsy to identify abnormalities such as inflammation, increased density of endometrial glands, scarring around the glands, and degree of scar tissue. Veterinarians grade biopsies on a scale of one to three, with three being most severe. “This grade gives a predictive index—the likelihood of the mare being able to carry a foal to term—but can also provide other information, such as abnormalities within the endometrium,” Wolfsdorf says.

Biopsy culture to identify bacteria living deep in the tissue. “If a mare has a deep-seated infection, we can use a mucolytic that helps break down mucus or a (growth medium) product called bActivate, which activates dormant Streptococcus that can live within the endometrium, stimulating them to become metabolically active so we can treat them,” says Wolfsdorf.

Hysteroscopic exam, in which the veterinarian uses an endoscope to look inside the uterus. “This can help identify fluid, adhesions, old C-section scars that may be a nidus (focus of infection), or foreign bodies,” she explains. “We can also look at the openings of the oviducts into the uterus.”

Battling Biofilm

If your veterinarian isn’t making progress treating a mare’s infection using the appropriate therapies, the bacteria might be producing biofilm. In recent years researchers have been diligently studying these problematic bacterial communities and how to eliminate them.

 

 

“Mares with chronic endometritis may have certain strains of bacteria that produce an extracellular polysaccharide matrix, which forms a scaffolding on which the bacteria colony can grow,” says Wolfsdorf, referring to the biofilm’s makeup. “This matrix hides bacteria and makes them more resistant to antibiotics and the mares’ own immune response.”

“Biofilm keeps the mare’s immune system from recognizing the presence of the bacteria,” says McCue. It also decreases their metabolic rate, and antibiotics are less effective if the bacteria are not replicating. Antibiotics also don’t penetrate as well through the biofilm.

“Biofilm has been a hot topic for several years, and there are some medications that can help eliminate biofilm,” he adds. “Mixing a combination of antibiotics and nonantibiotic therapies has been effective to get rid of both the biofilm and the bacteria within the biofilm. Two of the substances utilized to break down biofilm are Tris-EDTA and DMSO, which subsequently allow the antibiotic to penetrate and kill the bacteria living within.”

If your veterinarian identifies a biofilm using a biofilm assay, he or she can determine which antibiotic to prescribe and which products will help break down that specific biofilm.

Other Causes of Infertility

Additional problems you might encounter in certain mares include:

Genetic abnormalities of the embryo “If a mare gets pregnant and loses it by 30 days, sometimes there are chromosomal or allele translocations (essentially, genetic flaws with that embryo) that may cause this to happen,” Wolfsdorf says.

Cervical tears Mares that suffer cervical tears during foaling generally have a history of chronic endometritis, she says. The damaged cervix will not provide a good seal until you repair it, and the mare will continue to develop endometritis.

“Once you repair a cervix, however, it may not be able to relax properly,” ­Wolfsdorf adds. “This can cause the mare to retain fluid post-breeding. She must also be monitored when she foals, because she may tear it again; it may need to be repaired after each foaling.”

Blocked oviduct Veterinarians typically don’t think about oviducts as causing fertility issues until they’ve ruled everything else out. “Mares with blocked oviducts generally have a specific history,” says Wolfsdorf. “They may be in their mid- to older years, with good reproductive conformation, no evidence of endometritis, and have been bred to fertile stallions but haven’t produced a pregnancy.”

While oviduct blockages can be difficult to diagnose, researchers have recently described several treatment options, including cannulation and lavage of the oviducts and topical application of prostaglandin E1 or E2 to dilate them and relieve the blockage, says McCue. Administration of the prostaglandin E1 misoprostol in one study, for instance, “showed a remarkable resumption of fertility in mares with a history of unexplained infertility,” he says.

Uterine cysts “Endometrial cysts occur mainly in middle-aged to older mares and are unusual in young mares,” says McCue. Uterine cysts visible on ultrasound usually indicate scar tissue or fibrosis within the uterine lining. If a mare has just a few small cysts, they generally don’t interfere with her ability to get or stay pregnant, but if cysts are large or numerous, they could be problematic. This is because when the embryo comes down through the oviduct and enters the uterus, it must be able to move around before it fixes in the base of a horn (the mare has two uterine horns extending from the uterine body). This movement of the embryo is important in signaling to the mare she is pregnant.

“If a cyst blocks the embryo’s ability to move, the mare will not recognize she is pregnant and will return to heat,” says Wolfsdorf. “If the embryo attaches next to a large cyst or numerous cysts, it cannot get the appropriate amount of nutrients (from the uterine wall).”

Veterinarians can remove small cysts with a laser during hysteroscopic exams. They use snares or other devices to manually remove larger cysts.

Take-Home Message

Resolving a breeding problem involves knowing the mare’s reproductive history, performing a thorough reproductive examination, and pursuing further diagnostic procedures (such as biopsies, cultures, etc.) if needed. Based on a good diagnosis, our sources say most problems can be resolved with appropriate treatment.

About The Author

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Heather Smith Thomas ranches with her husband near Salmon, Idaho, raising cattle and a few horses. She has a B.A. in English and history from University of Puget Sound (1966). She has raised and trained horses for 50 years, and has been writing freelance articles and books nearly that long, publishing 20 books and more than 9,000 articles for horse and livestock publications. Some of her books include Understanding Equine Hoof Care, The Horse Conformation Handbook, Care and Management of Horses, Storey’s Guide to Raising Horses and Storey’s Guide to Training Horses. Besides having her own blog, www.heathersmiththomas.blogspot.com, she writes a biweekly blog at http://insidestorey.blogspot.com that comes out on Tuesdays.