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Jul 14, 2006

Barbaro's doctor expresses concern for horse


Kennett Square, PA (Sports Network) - The veterinarians caring for Barbaro held a press conference Thursday morning at the New Bolton Center of the University of Pennsylvania and were not overly optimistic about the Kentucky Derby winner's condition.

Barbaro, of course, suffered a major injury to his right hind leg in the first few yards of the Preakness Stakes on May 20, two weeks after a dominant performance in the Run for the Roses. The colt now has a serious problem with his left hind leg.

"We all know there is tremendous interest in Barbaro's condition," said Chief of Surgery Dr. Dean Richardson. "We have been trying to be very straight forward with the public about what's going on with the horse. We pointed out that the horse had some major complications in the last week. He's had even more complications in the last couple of days."

Dr. Richardson pointed out that Barbaro has developed laminitis -- an inflammation of the sensitive laminae of the foot that is caused by uneven weight distribution. Laminitis can develop quickly and is life threatening.

"The most feared complication from the outset for this horse was that he would develop laminitis in his good foot," noted Richardson. "The horse has suffered an acute, rather severe, bout of laminitis in left hind foot."

A partial hoof wall resection was performed on Barbaro's left hind foot.

Dr. Richardson, however, pointed out that Barbaro is not about to be "put down."

"When you come in and see this horse every day, he nickers to you, he is still eating well, he has excellent G.I. function, he is capable of walking around the stall, he is maintaining his weight well, his heart rate is low and his temperature is back to normal," Dr. Richardson said.

"His stability on his right hind leg, the one that we re-did last weekend, is good," continued Dr. Richardson. "Everything looks to be doing well in the right hind."

Dr. Richardson offered some guarded optimism about the three-year-old colt.

"We think that we have things under reasonable control in the right hind," stated Richardson. "But it's too soon to say that everything is going to heal there. I certainly can't claim that."

The laminitis in the left hind foot is giving the most concern to all those involved with Barbaro. Dr. Richardson called this situation "catastrophic."

"We have the horse in an intensive pain management regimen," Richardson said.

Dr. Richardson went on to emphasize that Barbaro's owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, are exclusively concerned with the horse's comfort. If he can act like a normal horse, Richardson pointed out that care for Barbaro will continue.

"We are going to go on until everyone is convinced that the horse shouldn't have any additional effort made to save his life," Dr. Richardson stated.

It has been almost two months since Barbaro shattered his right hind leg during the running of the Preakness Stakes. Dr. Richardson and his surgical team performed reconstructive surgery the following day.

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