Race for a Remedy

Retired from the track, thoroughbred First Flight served as a "factory" to produce botulism antitoxin

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The United States suspected Iraq had a significant stockpile of biological weapons, which are almost impossible to detect during research and production. Biological warfare research facilities can be concealed in the guise of legitimate biotechnical or medical laboratories. In the end, it was found that Saddam Hussein had produced and stockpiled massive quantities of biological weapons — including botulinum toxin — but apparently did not use them. In case he had, First Flight's antibodies stood ready to help. And, in Tessler's case and others worldwide, they actually did.

First Flight died alone at age 31 of natural causes on May 17, 1999, in his paddock's long grass at Fort Detrick's Large Animal Research Facility. In "human years," he was over 90 years old. He was cremated and his ashes were buried at Fort Detrick near a small marker dedicated to his service to medical research.

By Carolyn H. Crowley


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