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Barbaro: the horse who captured America's heart

Barbaro: the horse who captured America's heart

by Sean Clancy. Eclipse Press, 192pp, hardcover, RRP $US25.95. ISBN 978-158150159-9.

April 10, 2007

Even before his accident Barbaro must have been one of the most-photographed thoroughbreds of 2006. And even without the huge profile he had before the Preakness, we all still would have been enthralled with Barbaro's story.

Before he was even close to the racetrack Barbaro was going to be a star: his pedigree suggested promise, and then his personality and demeanour won over those who worked with him.

Barbaro's supporters showed their concern with cards, flowers, and carrots.
Just as well he was photographed a lot as an up-and-comer; the book Barbaro is packed with dozens of fabulous photographs of the colt, from his early education and work at the Fair Hill training centre, to many striking images of his raceday successes.

The co-stars in Barbaro's amazing life story are featured in their own chapters, and are probably deserving of their own volumes. But, then, they say there's a story in everyone.

There's no need here to repeat Barbaro's history, but in brief: (the highs) - Kentucky Derby winner lauded as possibly the next Triple Crown winner; trained by former Olympian and plane crash survivor Michael Matz; and ridden by a Peruvian immigrant who became one of the nation's best jockeys. But then the lows - injured in the most dramatic fashion imaginable; unprecedented surgery; followed by life-and-death operations and complications.

It was Barbaro's good fortune to be treated by the leading equine surgeon at possibly the best equipped veterinary centre in the US. Recovery was long but steady.

And he was so close.

The only downside about this book is timing, and the fact we don't get the fairytale ending we'd all hoped for. Had Barbaro survived we could look forward to the next chapter of the story, possibly reading about the exploits of his progeny on the racetrack.

It had to be at the printers in mid-January; and by the end of the month laminitis had claimed Barbaro.

But still, the impact Barbaro has had on the racing and veterinary worlds, and on equine welfare, has been huge. We have not read the last about Barbaro yet.

» Review: My Guy Barbaro, by Edgar Prado



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