This year’s Belmont Stakes runner-up Paynter will ship Dec. 29 from Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center near Elkton, Md., to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s California barn, owner Ahmed Zayat confirmed Dec. 26, the same day it was announced the colt had won the 2012 Secretariat Vox Populi Award.

Paynter, a 3-year-old son of Awesome Again, has been recovering in Maryland from surgery carried out Oct. 3 at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center of Veterinary Medicine to remove an abscessed area of his colon. The abscess was discovered after Paynter developed an illness that landed him first in a New Jersey clinic, then at the Upstate Equine Medical Center in New York. During the illness, Paynter developed and recovered from a bout of laminitis, among other medical struggles.

According to Zayat, the colt will be on a direct flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport. Zayat said he and his family will greet Paynter upon his arrival.

Zayat and his son Justin kept fans informed about Paynter’s progress via their respective Twitter accounts, @jazz3162 and @justinzayat.

In other news, the public voted for Paynter to receive the Vox Populi award. His victory was announced by Penny Chenery in a phone interview with HRTV Dec. 26. The award recognizes the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the American public and gained recognition for Th