`A long way ... to go'

Barbaro's co-owner doing what she can

Horse Racing

May 23, 2006|By SANDRA MCKEE | SANDRA MCKEE,SUN REPORTER

The day after Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro had successfully come through four-plus hours of surgery after his breakdown in the 131st Preakness Stakes on Saturday, his co-owner, Gretchen Jackson, still sounded heartsick.

"It's sad, so sad," she said. "I know he's doing well right now, but it's hard to get over - and there is such a long way he has to go."

Barbaro was undefeated, 6-for-6, and projected to be the next Triple Crown winner by many experts. But on Saturday, his racing career ended when he suffered three major breaks in his right hind leg shortly after the start of the Preakness.

He was immediately pulled up by jockey Edgar Prado on the front stretch, a move doctors at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., said "probably saved his life."

Now, every day Barbaro can survive brings him closer to beating the recovery odds on his life-threatening injuries, which his surgeon, Dr. Dean Richardson, said were "a coin toss."

But Jackson said there never was any doubt she and her husband, Roy, would do everything possible to save Barbaro's life.

"I think we'd always try if there is any shot for him to make it," she said. "We have, over in our field right now, horses who are useless, who didn't do as much as he did. But they work for you, and you have a responsibility to take care of them. They've given us so much.

"No, there was never a doubt that we'd do all we could for him. Hopefully, he'll have a life."

Trainer Michael Matz said yesterday that he plans to spend as much time with Barbaro as he can.

"The worst thing has been to pass his stall and not see him in it," Matz said. "But I feel much better now. I feel we've made every effort to save his life and give him a chance."

smm2me@aol.com

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