As feared from hearing radio reports this morning, BARBARO has lost his fight with his two hind legs, one that was badly broken in the Preakness and the other which was stricken with laminitis. Eight months of trying to keep the poor guy alive, most of that time he was very happy and recovering but last night was apparently not a good night.
A tragic end to any horse's life.
Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form writes the following:
Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby winner, was euthanized on Monday morning at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine at New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., ending an emotional, eight-month odyssey that began when he fractured his right hind leg in the Preakness Stakes.
According to a report by The Associated Press, Roy Jackson, who along with his wife, Gretchen Jackson, owned the colt, said: "We just reached a point where it was going to be difficult for him to go on without pain. It was the right decision, it was the right thing to do. We said all along if there was a situation where it would become more difficult for him then it would be time."
Barbaro eventually succumbed to the ravages of the crippling hoof disease laminitis, which developed in his left hind leg and caused further problems with the right hind. The original fracture in his right hind leg had healed, but subsequent complications in both rear legs felled the gallant colt.
Dr. Dean Richardson, the chief of surgery at New Bolton, had repeatedly cautioned that Barbaro's health was in a precarious position, even as the colt appeared to make strides toward a recovery last fall. In recent weeks, however, Barbaro had several setbacks that eventually proved insurmountable.
On Saturday, Barbaro had surgery on his right hind leg because, according to a statement from Richardson, "we could not keep him comfortable on his right hind foot."
Richardson said a deep abscess developed because Barbaro apparently was shifting weight to his right hind to compensate for the "discomfort on the left hind foot." Richardson said it was not laminitis in the right hind, but "potentially just as serious."
The surgery on Saturday placed an external skeleton fixation device on the leg, which required two steel pins to be placed through the right hind cannon bone, Richardson said.
"This results in the horse eliminating all weight-bearing from the foot," Richardson said. "The horse's weight is borne through the pins across the cannon bone. There is significant risk in this approach, but we believed it was our only option given the worsening of the right hind foot problem."
Richardson said the major risk was that the bone bearing the weight - in this case, the cannon bone - "can fracture."
"Unfortunately, we felt we needed to take this risk because this approach offered our only hope of keeping Barbaro acceptably comfortable," Richardson said.
At the time, Richardson warned, "This is another significant setback that exemplifies how complex his medical situation remains because both hind limbs have major problems."
The surgery on Saturday, which removed an orthotic brace, followed by three days surgery to apply a plastic and steel brace to help stabilize the right hind leg. At that time, an abscess was drained from the right hind foot, and the cast on his left hind leg was changed.
Although the original fracture in the right hind had healed, the left leg ended up being a longer, more complicated project, and begat the recent complications in the right hind leg.
Barbaro's condition had regressed earlier in January, but he then had a couple of good weeks before his latest round of maladies.
On Jan. 3, Barbaro had the cast replaced on his left hind leg. And then on Jan. 9, Barbaro had a significant setback. According to a press release from New Bolton, Barbaro "became acutely more uncomfortable on his left hind foot" that evening.
"The foot cast was removed and some new separation of the medial [inside] portion of his foot was found," the release said. As a result, Barbaro needed surgery to remove the damaged tissue.
In death, as during his life, Barbaro was a cut above the rest. He survived far longer than anyone could have expected, considering the extent of the injuries to his right hind leg suffered May 20, coupled with the case of laminitis he developed in his left hind in early July. And as a racehorse, Barbaro became the first horse to win the Derby off a break of five weeks or more since Needles 50 years earlier.
Barbaro had an unorthodox campaign in the spring that trainer Michael Matz correctly believed would have Barbaro at his peak for the Derby and the Triple Crown.
Barbaro had won the first three starts of his career on turf, but then was moved to dirt for the Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 4. He won that race, in a driving rainstorm, and then was given a two-month break until the Florida Derby on April 1. So, Barbaro entered the Derby with just one race in 13 weeks.
The week of the Derby, no horse trained better than Barbaro. One week before the race, he had a powerful workout for the Derby under exercise rider Peter Brette in which Barbaro was credited with a four-furlong time of 46 seconds, but actually went six furlongs in about 1:12 while traveling effortlessly.
He ran to his works. Barbaro, sent off the second choice in the Derby on May 6, captured the race in a runaway, winning by 6 1/2 lengths with jockey Edgar Prado to remain undefeated after six starts. The overpowering manner of his win gave rise to talk that he would become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
Barbaro was sent off the 1-2 favorite in the Preakness. After being loaded into the gate for the race, he pushed open his stall and jogged about 110 yards down the stretch. He came back to the gate, was reloaded, then was sent on his way in the Preakness.
A furlong into the race, Prado suddenly pulled up Barbaro and eased him toward the outside rail as the rest of the Preakness runners rolled by. It was immediately obvious that Barbaro had suffered a serious fracture to his right hind leg, and he was taken by horse ambulance back to the stakes barn.
Radiographs taken a half-hour later showed that Barbaro had catastrophic injuries to his right hind. He had a fracture in the cannon bone above the fetlock, had fractured the pastern bone below the fetlock, and had fractured and dislocated his fetlock. Within 90 minutes of the race, Barbaro was being transported to New Bolton.
The next morning, Barbaro underwent extensive surgery, performed by Richardson, to repair his shattered right hind leg. He needed a plate and 27 screws to fuse the lower portion of his leg, and had his leg placed in a cast that ran from his foot to just below his hock.
For the first six weeks, Barbaro appeared to recover in a satisfactory manner. But on July 8, he had the plate and several screws replaced after an infection was detected in that leg. Within a few days of that surgery, Barbaro developed laminitis in his left hind leg. Laminitis often occurs in a previously sound limb when a horse attempts to shift weight to relieve pressure on an opposing, injured limb.
After developing laminitis, Barbaro had surgery to remove 80 percent of the hoof on his left rear foot. That foot was placed in a soft cast. Barbaro was placed in a sling for several hours a day to help take pressure off his injured limbs, though he was able to get up on his own power after laying down to rest.
By the fall, Barbaro had recovered to the point where he could be taken outside to graze each day. There even was talk of moving him to a warmer climate, to avoid the usually harsh winters in Pennsylvania.
Barbaro was bred and was owned by the Jacksons, who race under Lael Stables. Barbaro was by Dynaformer out of the Carson City mare La Ville Rouge. He won 6 of 7 starts and earned $2,302,200.
He was a finalist for champion 3-year-old male of 2006, but lost that title to Bernardini, who won the Preakness. The Jacksons were named co-champion owner for 2006 along with Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's Darley Stable, which owns Bernardini. The Jacksons, Richardson, and New Bolton received a Special Eclipse Award for their perseverance with Barbaro following his intial injury.
- additional reporting by Glenye Cain Oakford