May 23, 2006

Barbaro continues to improve after surgery

By Jon Hurdle

KENNETT SQUARE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - The condition of
Barbaro continued to improve after the Kentucky Derby champion
suffered a life-threatening ankle fracture in the Preakness
Stakes, the surgeon who operated on him said on Tuesday.

Dr Dean Richardson of the University of Pennsylvania's New
Bolton Center for Large Animals said the colt was showing
encouraging signs that he would survive a series of injuries
that usually led to horses being euthanized.

"He is doing very well," Richardson told a news conference.
"He is actually better today than he was yesterday, and he was
pretty good yesterday.

"He is feeling very good, he has absolutely normal vital
signs -- temperature, pulse, respiration, attitude, appetite."

Richardson, who operated on Barbaro for more than four
hours on Sunday, was encouraged by the three-year-old's
progress. "Every day, the risk diminishes," he said.

But he repeated his earlier warnings that the Kentucky-bred
horse still had a long way to go before he was out of danger.

"There are many, many things that could go wrong," he said.

Barbaro, the overwhelming betting favorite to win the
Preakness, pulled up during Saturday's race, his right hind leg
grotesquely splaying out.

He was immediately slowed by jockey Edgar Prado and
attended to by veterinarians.

The colt's stunning 6 1/2-length victory in the Kentucky
Derby on May 6 had raised hopes that he would become the first
horse in nearly 30 years to win the Triple Crown by sweeping
the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.

The best he can hope for now is a career as a stallion but
that could be problematic because his injured hind leg may
impair his ability to mount a mare, Richardson said.

Barbaro's owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, making their
first public appearance since the accident, said they were
committed to doing everything possible for his survival
regardless of his ability to breed.

Roy Jackson said the couple had been on an emotional
roller-coaster in recent weeks.

"We have run through the gamut of emotions from the
Kentucky Derby euphoria to the devastation of the Preakness,"
he said.

Richardson said the decision to try to save Barbaro's life
had nothing to do with the horse's financial value, reported to
be in the $20 million range.

"This horse could have absolutely no reproductive value and
they would have tried to save his life," he said.