Barbaro has helped many other horses

November 30, 2006


Jockey Edgar Prado and Dr Dean Richardson with Barbaro. Prado made his fourth visit to see Barbaro last week, as reported by Alex Brown of Tim Woolley racing. "It's six months since the Preakness, six months of recovery, and Barbaro had a special visitor this morning ... Edgar Prado. Edgar noted Barbaro had put on a little weight (since his last visit), had a bright eye, and was actually trying to bite him a little! Edgar then waited around to meet with Mrs. Jackson, who visited Barbaro with cut grass. Barbaro was more tranquil during that visit (according to Edgar). I actually drove over to New Bolton to meet Edgar. He was with his wife Lillian and son Luis. He was very relaxed and happy to see Barbaro."

Photo: Sabina Louise Pierce/University of Pennsylvania

Over the past six months the name Barbaro has come to mean more than just one horse recovering from raceday injuries. His misfortune has spun off into several positive moves within the equine and racing industries.

One is the highlighting if the need for more knowledge about the killer disease laminitis; the need for improved racing surfaces to make it safer for gallopers; and the horse slaughter issue. As Barbaro's co-owner Roy Jackson said: "We have an obligation. We are their keepers." And there's the Barbaro Fund, which was established to improve services and equipment at the New Bolton Centre, where Barbaro is recovering. As well as that Pennsylvania's governor gave $US13.5 million to the New Bolton Centre.

Barbaro continues to improve following the removal of his right hind leg cast on November 6, according to his medical team.

"Barbaro is steadily gaining strength on his right hind limb now that it is out of the cast," said Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery.

"He is only wearing a very light cotton bandage on that leg and both walks and stands well on it."

Barbaro's lower right hind leg had been in a cast since surgery at Penn's George D. Widener Hospital following his accident at the Preakness on May 20.

"Radiographs of his fractured lower limb were taken yesterday and look excellent," said Dr. Richardson.

Barbaro's left hind foot, which had laminitis, continues to improve.

"The left hind foot is improving gradually and has a long way to go although his comfort on that foot remains surprisingly good," said Dr. Richardson.

"Barbaro's attitude and appetite remain excellent, and he still takes short walks outside to graze each day if the weather permits."

He is the grateful recipient of cut grass from his owner Gretchen Jackson, who visits often, says Alex Brown, of Tim Woolley racing. The site's online updates on Barbaro ontinue to be hugely popular, and its readers call themselves "Friends of Barbaro" - FOBs. Associated Content wrote that: "This band of fervent animal lovers has become a force to reckon with as far as mobilizing the public and elected officials regarding animal-friendly issues such as recent anti-horse slaughter legislation. And the horrific and highly-publicized injuries of Barbaro and dozens of other thoroughbreds recently have led track owners to consider using new, improved materials such as Polytrack."

And on the racing blog, Pulling Hair and Betting Horses, Barbaro is being touted as a Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year candidate:

"The point is that Barbaro had a much larger affect on our sport than his races indicate. It was in his injury and recovery that the nation has gone wild about Barbaro: He receives more fan mail than a lot of other sports 'heroes', in his name the UPenn Vet School has raised thousands of dollars, his owners have been championed wherever they go.

"And finally, his lasting effect is that any track that switches to a synthetic surface could also be known as 'a track that Barbaro built.' I don't think it's any coincidence that we're seeing more tracks switch to a synthetic surface. True, California was already in the works, but a surface switch is now being championed by anyone attached to racing, or hoping to be attached to racing. In fact, let me rephrase, I don't think it's any coincidence that track surface switches are becoming front page news. It's no surprise that these discussions are front page news (in racing media) because people care."