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Once-Injured Race Horse Climbs Back Into the Winner’s Circle

MU veterinary team credited with race horse’s resurgence on the track

June 14, 2012

Story Contact(s):
Nathan Hurst,, 573-882-6217

Broadcast quality video of the IRAP treatment is available for download and re-use. For more information, contact Nathan Hurst:

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Using a novel therapy, a team at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine has helped a veteran race horse become a contender once again.

Nate’s Mineshaft, a 5-year-old, thoroughbred race horse, developed inflammation around his fetlocks, a joint comparable to the human ankle, causing him serious pain. The inflammation, which had become the size of softballs when Nate’s Mineshaft arrived at MU, prevented him from bending his ankles. This condition often leads to race horses being retired from the racing circuit. However, MU veterinarians performed a new therapy on Nate to reduce the inflammation and prevent further damage to his fetlocks.

The therapy, called Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein (IRAP), introduces a helpful protein harvested and magnified from the horse’s blood that helps decrease and prevent inflammation in the horse’s joints.

“During IRAP, we draw the horse’s blood and place it in a syringe with specialized glass beads that stimulate the production of a unique protein during a 24 hour incubation period,” said Shannon Reed,  assistant professor of equine surgery and lameness at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. “After 24 hours, the serum with the enhanced protein levels is divided into multiple doses that are injected into the horse’s joint weekly for 4-5 weeks.  Because this treatment uses the horse’s own blood, there is no risk of disease transmission or immune rejection from foreign proteins.”

Before receiving treatment at MU, Nate’s Mineshaft had won $58,568 on the race track. Since his treatment at MU, Nate has won $592,806 racing. In fact, since his recovery Nate has won five races, including two graded stake races in Louisiana and a graded stakes race in Texas. His performances are earning him widespread media attention.

“It really is a Cinderella story,” Reed said. “Nate was purchased for $8,000 and has won over a half million. His success in the more competitive graded stakes is particularly impressive considering his injuries and his long road back to recovery.”

In addition to the weekly IRAP therapy, MU veterinarians guided Nate through physical rehabilitation. Each day, the horse was put through an exercise schedule that consisted of a warm-up, motion exercises, cardio training on a treadmill and a cool down. Nate’s owners credit the MU doctors with the horse’s resurgence.

“They keep up with new treatments, and are on the cutting edge,” said Scott Reiman, co-owner of Nate’s Mineshaft. “Without Dr. Reed and her staff’s excellent care and knowledge of what to do for Nate, he would never have accomplished what he has so far.”

Nate’s Mineshaft will be racing at Churchill Downs in the Grade 1 $400.000 Stephen Foster Handicap Saturday, June 16 in an attempt to qualify for the Breeder’s Cup Classic, which is considered by many in the racing industry to be the pinnacle of racing success.

Broadcast quality video of the IRAP treatment is available for download and re-use. For more information, contact Nathan Hurst: