Shaken Prado remounts

Barbaro jockey wipes away Preakness tears to ride card at Belmont

May 22, 2006|By KEN MURRAY | KEN MURRAY,SUN REPORTER

Twenty-four hours later, Edgar Prado still was distraught over the short, tragic ride he took aboard star-crossed Barbaro in the 131st Preakness Stakes on Saturday.

"I tried to bring happiness to Maryland. Instead, it was sadness and tears," he said yesterday.

Prado's return to Pimlico Race Course, a track he dominated in the 1990s, on the Kentucky Derby winner carried Triple Crown implications. But his best intentions snapped like Barbaro's right hind leg soon after they broke from the starting gate.

Yesterday, while Barbaro underwent four-plus hours of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., to repair three broken bones in the leg, Prado wiped away the tears and went back to work at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

He had six mounts on the nine-race card, finished third twice and won the last race on 5-year-old Contenders Emotion.

Prado's emotions were still raw from the day before.

"He's a horse with a lot of heart to survive," he said of Barbaro. "He put all his effort to stay up [after breaking his leg in three places]. You can see he was raising his leg. He wasn't fighting me. [But] he was in pain."

Prado describes himself as more of a "horse lover" than a horse racer. There likely was no one who felt worse than the 38-year-old jockey when Barbaro broke down before the first turn.

"If I take defeat, I will take defeat any time," he said. "I can deal with that."

Prado had no new insight yesterday into what happened to Barbaro. He heard a pop after clearing the gate and quickly realized his horse was in trouble. Prado's quick response saved Barbaro's life on Saturday and enabled him to get to yesterday's surgery.

"Lesser skilled jockeys would have broken the horse's whole leg on the track," said Laurel veterinarian James M. Casey. "The horse would have had to have been put down on the spot."

Dr. Dean Richardson, chief of surgery at New Bolton Center, also commended Prado and track officials for the life-saving attention they gave Barbaro on the track.

Said Prado: "I just did what I was supposed to do. The damage was already done. I want to stop him as soon as possible. There's still a long road for him to be safe. I just hope he recuperates. I wish him the best."

Soon after his last ride at Belmont, Prado was on his way home to Hollywood, Fla., still weighed down with a heavy heart.

"I feel terrible," he said. "All my friends and family were there. I thought it was going to be a great racing day. ... How do you explain that?

"I was looking forward to coming back to Maryland [and winning] and it didn't come true. I just feel bad something like that happened."

ken.murray@baltsun.com

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