This Saturday's Preferred Pace at Mohawk Racetrack features a solid field of nine horses, with a handicap in condition forcing State Treasurer to the outside of the starting gate. In reality, the horse is facing a second handicap in recovering from a near-tragic incident last week.
Dr. Ian Moore was looking forward to a more compact field in last week's Preferred, where a field of five was scratched down to four when State Treasurer was a Judges' scratch -- scratched for just the second time in his 100-plus race career. Moore was jogging the defending Horse of the Year last Friday when he took an uncharacteristic lame step.
"He jogged super that day, I had him on a trail that had just opened...and he was trotting, I hadn't seen him trot ever. We were saying the day before we were looking forward to racing him in a smaller field on Saturday...when we put him away, that's when it was found."
The 'it' in question was a two-inch #10 screw in his left hind hoof, buried all the way to the edge of the thread.
"I didn't measure it but it seemed to be a two-inch screw, #10 diameter. It was a very thick screw. Obviously I've seen a few of those over my veterinary career but typically they're the smaller diameter ones that get in there," Moore told Trot Insider. "A #6 diameter would be the maximum that gets turned up and in there...this is probably the largest screw I've seen in there. Shingle nails are very common and the good thing about shingle nails is they don't penetrate deep enough.
"It didn't go all the way in but it was in an area where if put any weight on that it would push it in even further," stated Moore. "Typically, if I'm not too far away, I like them to hold that so I can x-ray where the screw is so you know what you're dealing with. In this case I went for an eye appointment and Mitch Tierney, who works for me, decided it needed to be taken out right away....which is actually probably a good move because [the horse] could have pushed it in even more."
While such an injury surely sounds painful, the situation is even serious than just discomfort. Moore is fully aware a puncture of that nature can be life-threatening to horses.
"First of all, with a puncture wound like that -- a screw or a nail or a piece of wire, I've even seen a piece of hard plastic penetrate the foot before -- if it goes into the navicular bursa or the coffin joint, within 12 hours you can have an immediate sepsis or infection of the joint. And tetanus is always a concern too, horses and humans are the two most susceptible species to tetanus.
"So, obviously that didn't happen but there are other vital structures in there as well...the coffin bone itself, or the navicular bone. If the screw touches that you can get an osteomyelitis -- infection of the bone -- or any of the ligaments in the foot."
State Treasurer was immediately started on antibiotics to help fight off infection.
"This would be one of two times when I believe in prophylactic (preventative) antibiotics. I don't use them on horses for any other reason other than that and if a horse choked on feed or hay or something because they can get an aspiration pneumonia from that.
"So I have him on high doses and it's knocked him off his feed a bit as a result but he's happy and he's walking sound."
Throughout the week, Moore actively treated the foot with soaks and packing, and he's added a special plate across the area as the frog is soft where the screw penetrated through. When he was dropped in the box on Tuesday, the probability of racing wasn't quite 100 per cent but the foot has shown daily improvement.
As surgery in this area is extremely difficult, Moore is thankful that to this point all signs would indicate such a procedure isn't necessary.
"It bled a lot, which is a good thing because it would help get out the bacteria," said Moore. "And he was vaccinated for tetanus before he left Florida and before he went to Florida so hopefully we should be good with that."
Owned by Paul & Sally MacDonald, State Treasurer leaves from Post 9 in Saturday's $34,000 Preferred Handicap. Chris Christoforou will drive the seven-year-old Real Desire gelding, listed as the 3-1 morning line choice.
Race 9 -- $34,000 Preferred Handicap - Mohawk Racetrack
1. Erle Dale N (James MacDonald - Ron Adams) - 10-1
2. The Wayfaring Man (Paul MacDonell - Nicky Comegna) - 12-1
3. Boomboom Ballykeel (Jon Drury - Richard Moreau) - 10-1
4. Mohawk Warrior (Sylvain Filion - Richard Moreau) - 8-1
5. Jins Shark (Steve Condren - Ciaran Morrison) - 8-1
6. Nirvana Seelster (Phil Hudon - Bill Budd) - 5-1
7. Nickle Bag (Trevor Henry - Bill Robinson) - 9-2
8. Ellis Park (Jack Moiseyev - Brad Maxwell) - 7-2
9.State Treasurer (Chris Christoforou - Dr. Ian Moore) - 3-1