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Paynter wins after layoff due to illness

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) - Paynter won the $63,866 feature at Betfair Hollywood Park by 4 1/2 lengths Friday in his return to racing after a nearly 11-month layoff because of serious health issues.

Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, who had five winners on the card, Paynter ran seven furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:21.86 and paid $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10 as the 2-5 favorite. It was his 4-year-old debut for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Paynter had been sidelined with laminitis and colitis since winning the $1 million Haskell Invitational last July 29 at New Jersey's Monmouth Park. He also finished second in last year's Belmont Stakes.

Paynter became seriously ill after the Haskell and had surgery to remove an abscessed area of his colon. He returned to Baffert's barn late last year after recovering from his ailments.

``He is just an incredible, phenomenal horse,'' Baffert said. ``I can't believe he is back.''

Owner Ahmed Zayat, who kept fans all over the world aware of Paynter's condition through social media last year, was also ecstatic.

``He is so courageous,'' he said. ``He's a true trooper, a special horse. He loves to do what he does, which is what he did today.''

Paynter had been worse than third just once in the first six starts of his career last year before falling ill.

``I had a lot of confidence in this horse and I knew he was going to win easily,'' Bejarano said. ``We had a fantastic trip.''

Paynter earned his fourth career win in his synthetic track debut and has earnings of $989,424.

Majestic City returned $4.60 and $3.60, while Fly Lexis Fly was another 6 1/4 lengths back in third and paid $3.40 to show.

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Mike Dempsey Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders' Cup.
The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes.

Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick.

Mike also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively.

No handicapper in the industry works harder to bring you analysis that produces profits at the track!

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Jerry Sessa Jerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins.
Jerry opened the 2016 Triple Crown season by hitting his Derby Day best bet, Nyquist. He also nailed the Derby exacta for a $30.60 payout. On 4/16/16 at Keeneland, Jerry hit an $819 exacta that led to a $38k Trifecta & a $300k Super.

In the 2015 Belmont Stakes Jerry dominated races 8-11 by hitting a $4,400 Pick 4, 3 Daily Doubles, 2 Pick 3's and calling American Pharoah as the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years.

Jerry is always looking to repeat his 2012 Triple Crown success, when he selected the winning horses for The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes.

Jerry looks forward to working with everyone and making money for anyone who invests in his picks on a daily basis.

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