Echo Zulu (Gun Runner–Letgomyecho, by Menifee), the 2021 champion 2-year-old filly and GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner who also captured three other Grade I races, including the 2023 Ballerina H., suffered two broken left front sesamoids Friday morning as she was working in company with Gunite, confirmed David Fiske, racing manager for owner Ron Winchell.
“Echo Zulu sustained a biaxial sesamoid bone fracture of the left-front fetlock during training this morning at Santa Anita,” Fiske texted the TDN. “She has been stabilized in a kimzey splint and will undergo surgery for a fetlock arthrodesis tomorrow.”
According to the Kimzey Welding website, which sells the device, a kimzey splint is comprised of aluminum with a neo-foam lining. Three nylon and velcro straps secure the splint to the injured leg while a fourth strap at the base of the splint holds the hoof firmly in place.
In a 2020 story on the procedure, Dan Ross explained, “There are two primary candidates for fetlock arthrodesis, experts say: horses crippled with degenerative arthritis, and in racehorses, those that suffer a closed biaxial proximal sesamoid fracture (when both sesamoid bones break in the same leg).”
The story continues, “The initial portion of the surgery concerns the removal of cartilage between the bones, to make the fusion as tight and stable as possible.”
“That's the most important part of the procedure that's often not done correctly,' warned California veterinarian Ryan Carpenter, who has performed numerous procedures, at the time. “You need that bone-on-bone interface so that it can heal properly.”
A plate is placed across the front of the fetlock, which holds the whole joint in place, wrote Ross. This plate is secured with screws that can be inserted into the fetlock, pastern, cannon bone and, when necessary, the sesamoids. A tension band, a wire that goes behind the fetlock joint, provides another layer of joint stabilization.
“When the sesamoid bones break, you have nothing that supports it back there, and the fetlock drops,” said Carpenter, of the need for this mechanism.