Derby winner Barbaro is `facing tough odds'


KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. -- The tenuous recovery of Barbaro continued yesterday, clouded by an ominous update by the veterinary surgeon who has treated the fractures that made the Kentucky Derby winner pull up in the Preakness Stakes.

"As we said [Tuesday], Barbaro's condition is potentially serious, and we are aggressively seeking all treatment options," Dr. Dean Richardson said in a statement posted on the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine Web site. "We will focus on further diagnostics and keeping our patient comfortable.

"He's facing tough odds and his condition is guarded. Our entire staff is determined to do all they can for this magnificent horse."

After six uneventful weeks, Barbaro developed an infection last week. On Saturday, Richardson led a medical team that cleaned the infection, and replaced the titanium plate and many of the 27 screws that were inserted into Barbaro's right hind leg after he suffered fractures in the leg less than a furlong into the Preakness.

Richardson replaced Barbaro's cast with a longer one, which in turn was replaced by another Monday. After being casted twice in six weeks, Barbaro got four new casts in a week.

On Monday, Richardson, who is also treating an infection in the horse's left hind hoof, said Barbaro's temperature had returned to normal. That prognosis changed late Tuesday, when Roy Jackson, who owns the horse along with his wife, Gretchen, told The Sun, "It's a little bit more serious than we thought."

Richardson was not granting interviews yesterday, but a representative for the New Bolton Center said he would provide an update to the media this morning. The Jacksons and Michael Matz, Barbaro's trainer, could not be reached for comment.

Barbaro remained in the Intensive Care Unit of the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals. There was tension in the air there yesterday afternoon, when a thunderstorm briefly broke the stifling heat and humidity in the horse country 35 miles southwest of Philadelphia.

The lobby near the admissions area continues to house posters and banners containing the signatures of thousands of well-wishers.

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