Tuesday Update: Barbaro

"Barbaro is doing very well. He's actually better today than he was even yesterday, and he was pretty good yesterday," Dean Richardson DVM, Dipl. ACVS, reported in a Tuesday morning news briefing at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center, where the classic winner was resting two days after surgery to repair multiple fractures in his right hind leg suffered in Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico race course in Baltimore, Md.

"He's feeling very good," said Richardson, who led the surgical team through a lengthy procedure attempting to fuse Barbaro's ankle Sunday afternoon and evening. "He's walking very well on the limb. He's got absolutely normal vital signs today: his temperature, pulse, respiration attitude, and appetite. We have no shortage of volunteers to handpick him grass, so he's grazing at a distance. He's doing very well."

Richardson, who was joined at the New Bolton Center by Barbaro's breeders and owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, said he wanted to clarify one comment he made following Sunday's surgery about saving the horse for the breeding shed.

"I made a big point about the optimal outcome is that he'd be salvaged for breeding," Richardson said. "Some people are taking that the wrong way. I want everyone to know that if this horse were a gelding, these owners would have definitely done everything to save this horse's life. I've known the Jacksons a long time. This horse could have no reproductive value and they would saved this horse's life."

Richardson added that he mistakenly said 23 screws were used in the procedure to fuse the ankle. "I think my resident (assistant) told me there were 27," he said. "I kind of lost track."

Roy Jackson thanked many people for their efforts to save Barbaro, including Edgar Prado, outriders and other Pimlico staff, trainer Michael Matz and assistant Peter Brette, track veterinarians, in addition to Scott Palmer, VMD, (who was attending the race as a spectator and "jumped in" to help), city and state police officers who provided an escort from Pimlico, and the staff of the New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa.

"We've run through the gamut of emotions from the Kentucky Derby of euphoria to the devastation of the Preakness in our family and Gretchen and I," he said. "I think we've gone through our own personal feelings. I think the sad part is in Barbaro's case that the American public won't get a chance to see him continue his racing career.

"We hope all of you here will be able to see little Barbaros," he added.

Hundreds of well wishers have sent cards, flowers, apples, and carrots to New Bolton Center, and the hospital is establishing a link to a web site for fans to send e-mails in care of Barbaro.

In addition, after an anonymous donor made what was a called a "very generous" gift, the Barbaro Fund for the George D. Widener Hospital at New Bolston Center was established--not to provide financial assistance for the classic winner but for the hospital. Information on contributing to the fund can be found here.

About the Author

Ray Paulick

Ray Paulick is a former editor of The Blood-Horse magazine.

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