Barbaro has two casts changed

Richardson pleased with what he sees

July 19, 2006|By SANDRA MCKEE | SANDRA MCKEE,SUN REPORTER

KENNETT SQUARE, PA. -- Dr. Dean Richardson, chief of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center, said yesterday that he changed Barbaro's two casts Monday afternoon and was pleased with what he saw.

"We changed his right hind leg cast to take new radiographs and to examine the incision," Richardson said in a news release. "The radiographs looked good; the plates we placed on July 8 to fuse the pastern are intact, and the fetlock fusion is unchanged. The leg and the incision looked as good as we could have hoped."

The right leg cast, which covers the horse's leg from his foot to just below his hock, supports the leg he shattered in the Preakness on May 20.

The modified foot cast on his left foot and ankle acts like a stiff bandage. It, too, was changed, and Richardson said it will be changed often so that the hoof can be treated.

Richardson said Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby winner, remained in stable condition with good vital signs after a restful night.

All of which was good news to those closest to Barbaro. Assistant trainer Peter Brette, who rode Barbaro every day during his training sessions and visits as often as possible -- about every other day -- said: "If he has a good night, we have a good day."

Both cast changes were performed with Barbaro lightly sedated in a sling, to which he has adapted very well.

"He is a very intelligent horse," Richardson said.

And that assessment comes as no surprise to Brette, who visited him Sunday and yesterday, but the assistant trainer said the horse's determination is another story.

"It's the first time I've seen a horse treated in a harness," Brette said. "But he's just adjusted to everything they've ever done to him. What he's been through the last eight weeks, it would have been the end of us and of most horses. I think he's surprised everyone by how tough he is."

That toughness, along with his racing success, has earned Barbaro the love and admiration of people around the world, and many of them have been demonstrating their feelings with gifts and donations.

At the Fair Hill Training Center, about 30 miles from here in Maryland, where Barbaro was based during his racing career, the staff has received numerous phone calls from people wanting to know how to send gifts and donations in support of the horse.

"We've been bombarded," said Kathy Rengert, a blood stock agent who is a friend of Barbaro's owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who remain in daily contact with the New Bolton Center while on vacation, visiting family in Africa.

"People want to send things to Barbaro," Rengert said. "Lately, I've been telling them Barbaro's connections have lots of money. If you want to help someone in racing, donate to the fund for trainer Mike Rea, who had a terrible accident here."

Rea, the father of three young children and a trainer at Fair Hill, suffered a severe brain injury June 16, when he and his horse fell during a training session. He was helicoptered to Maryland Shock Trauma Center and then, three weeks later, transferred to Kernan Hospital, where he is expected to be in recovery and disabled for at least a year.

His friends have set up the Mike Rea Recovery Relief Fund to help with medical and primary family needs.

"The Jacksons are billionaires," said Sheila Barndollar, who set up a fundraising raffle for a Ford Mustang to benefit Rea. "We're not worried about Barbaro. I'm a trainer and I know how people feel about horses, but this is a chance to help someone who really needs it. We're just trying to make sure his family is taken care of and that they don't lose their house."

Donations to the fund can be made in a variety of ways: by mail to the Fair Hill Training Center (c/o manager Sally Goswell, 719 Training Center Dr., Elkton, MD 21921) or to the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (6314 Windsor Mill Road, Baltimore, MD 21207) or at any Wachovia Bank branch.

Rea, like Barbaro, also is making progress in his recovery, and that doesn't surprise his friends either.

"I know Mike," Barndollar said. "He's a fighter."

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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