Barbaro Updates: 140 – 173

Barbaro, with Messaging, at Fair Hill Training Center

Update 173: Again, no real update this morning. Given the current situation where Barbaro appears to have been more uncomfortable lately (yesterday anyway) it is harder to get updates. This is not because people are not willing to provide them, but because I don’t have the ‘energy’ to ask them. You can tell just passing Michael Matz’s crew this morning that the same spirit of optimism is being tested. I assume there will be something coming from New Bolton concerning yesterday’s events at some point, but I am sure they are overwhelmed too. We were warned that Barbaro would have good days, and not so good days. Lets hope we are just experiencing a little of the latter and things improve quickly.

I do plan to update Tim’s horses on the site later today, we have let that lapse a little lately.

Update 172: Thanks for your patience today. Barbaro did show some level of discomfort with his new cast. They decided to replace the cast, change the angle slightly and see if that helps his comfort level. During the change they were able to confirm things happening beneath the cast were fine (there was no obvious reason for the discomfort). Dr Kathy Anderson, who had not seen the most recent radiographs until later this afternoon, said she was “thrilled” with the actual bone-healing process. More updates will likely be forthcoming, but please, keep good thoughts for Barbaro, today was a tough day for all involved.

Dr. Thomas Brokken, President of the American Association of Equine Practictioners, is planning to visit Barbaro and Dr. Richardson tomorrow.

Mike Rea does seem to be progressing well: Steps Forward.

On other news, it was great to see Makybe Diva inducted into the Australia Racing Hall of Fame. I was fortunate to be there to see her win her first Melbourne Cup!

Update 171: No update yet today. This morning was crazy busy and I was not able to catch up with the right people. I will endevour to get some news later today. I did discover I used to ride point-to-points with the father of one of the exercise riders at Fair Hill (which I guess ages me a little).

Also, from the Baltimore Sun: Barbaro’s owners happy to hear their horse’s breaks are healing (thanks Sarah):

Roy Jackson, who with his wife Gretchen owns Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, said yesterday he was relieved to hear Monday — after Barbaro’s cast change and the implanting of three additional screws — that Barbaro’s joints are fusing and the breaks healing.

“But it all takes time,” Jackson said. “I’m hopeful that he will come through everything all right, but we’ve been through this before [with other horses] and we know things can go wrong in 24 hours. All we can really do is wait and see.”

Yesterday, Barbaro was feeling good, said Dr. Corinne Sweeney, executive director of the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., where Barbaro is recovering in the intensive care unit from the multiple fractures in his right, rear leg during the Preakness.

wednesday, 11:50 AM

Update 170: A must read article from the Daily Racing Form: Vet pleased with Barbaro’s progress (thanks Kim) that is essentially an interview with Dr. Richardson conducted today. He details yesterday’s events, the current prognosis, and notes the ‘problem’ with the foot of the good hind leg. The following are a couple of excerpts, but it is good to read the entire article:

“This is about the time we expect to see good evidence on radiographs of a degree of healing, and the X-rays that were taken yesterday, they look very, very good,” Richardson said Tuesday in a phone interview. “As far as the major fracture, basically, it could not look better. He’s really progressing well as far as the fracture goes. All in all, it was a reasonably satisfactory day.”


“The reason we changed the screws is that he had two broken screws that crossed the pastern joint,” he said. Richardson said that the screws he replaced were in “the least important part of the fixation” and that veterinarians knew bent screws in that area would be fairly likely.

“That is an area that we knew was going to be vulnerable to have the implants break, because there’s a lot of force and motion that’s occurring at the pastern joint, because everything is locked down above it. The end of the plate is there, and it’s tending to move, and he’s been very, very active on his cast.

“This doesn’t affect his fracture per se, but it does affect how quickly I would be able to get him out of the cast if his fracture continues to heal, because we need to have the pastern stable as well as the fracture. Because of that, we put these additional screws across the pastern joint to try and help stabilize it more.”

The following article: Cast change for Barbaro, and new screws (thanks Lynette) is the first article to cite this site as a source 🙂 In fact, I e-mailed them last night to let them know of the cast change (I saw their site referenced in the wikipedia entry of Barbaro). I was pretty excited to see this site’s reference, all the way from New Zealand!

Update 169: The Baltimore Sun has a nice article: Barbaro gets cast change (thanks Barbara) that has a good explanation for the additional screws:

“Dr. Richardson was pleased with what he saw,” Sweeney said. “He’s continuing to heal, and the bent screws are not a setback. It’s why you don’t put one or two screws in to hold the stresses. It’s no different from you or I healing from a broken leg, walking around, getting up and down. It’s normal. And Dr. Richardson simply thought three [additional] screws would work better as a proactive measure.”

So now Bobby has 30 screws, lets hope he does not plan to travel, how will he explain that to the security people!

Update 168: Just passed Michael Matz on the track (Tuesday morning) and he tells me Barbaro is doing well. He had a good night after his busy day yesterday. Everything is looking good. Relieving news!
Updated 7:50am, tuesday.

Update 167: Four new pictures from New Bolton from today. The first of Barbaro, you have to admit, he does look sharp! And Mike Rea is doing well, thanks to a bit of sisterly intervention.

Update 166: Peter Brette just called, and confirmed what we had heard from Kathy Anderson. You can imagine there is a sense of relief surrounding those who are close to Bobby (or at least I got that impression from each of the conversations I had with Peter and Kathy). Michael (Matz) is visiting Barbaro. The Bloodhorse is running a copy of the New Bolton Press Release: Barbaro Gets New Bandages, Screws; Radiographs ‘Look Great’

Update 165: New Bolton’s press release today: Barbaro’s cast changed for second time; new screws added includes:

Doctors at New Bolton Center’s George D. Widener Hospital have changed the cast of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro for the second time since his hind leg was shattered at the Preakness on May 20. “Barbaro is back in his stall and is doing well,” said Chief of Surgery Dean W. Richardson, who replaced the cast he had put on Barbaro on June 13. “Also, we replaced two bent screws and added three new ones across the pastern joint. His radiographs look great, and he had another successful pool recovery.”

Update 164: Phew! OK, Kathy Anderson just called and she had just heard from Dean Richardson. Barbaro has recovered and is now back in his stall. The injured leg looks good, the radiographs were very good. They did replace a couple of screws (please don’t ask me any details, it is beyond my domain).

There was an absess in his left hind foot, in the heal. This had been a recent cause of discomfort (and hence the cast change I guess). It is great they could identify this, as apparently that’s not an issue for them to work on. Basically, as far as I can tell with my brief conversation, the cast change was as good as they could have hoped for.

Update 163: Just spoke to Kathy Anderson (Barbaro’s Fair Hill vet) at 12:50 pm and Barbaro is currently having his cast changed.

Update 162: Confirmation from the Baltimore Sun that Dr. Richardson noted yesterday Barbaro may have his cast changed this week (we now know it is today). Barbaro could have cast changed (thanks Sarah).

Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro had a visit with his surgeon yesterday.

Dr. Dean Richardson said the horse, who is attempting to recover from a broken rear, right leg suffered in the Preakness, could have another cast change this week.

Barbaro has been doing fine since his first cast change June 13, a little over three weeks after the original surgery. At that time, Barbaro was X-rayed and found to be healing properly.

Now nearly three weeks after that first change, Richardson said this cast “is beginning to show signs of wear.” On the day the cast is changed, Richardson is expected to X-ray Barbaro’s leg.

Update 161: It seems the cast change is planned for today, and this morning. I will try to get any updates through the day. Via the process of the cast change they will be able to take more pictures to see how the healing process is coming along (note, they can take pictures with the cast on, but apparently, and as one may suspect, the cast does muddy the quality of the images).

I think this is an important day for Barbaro in the entire recovery process. While I am not privy to the reasons for the cast change, one can speculate it is simply due (one day shy of three weeks), or he is less comfortable with the current cast at this point (we noted in update 153 he is likely to have better days and not as good days). If the latter, it may simply be due to the fit of the cast. Anyway, no good speculating, lets just hope today is a good day, and I am sure we will know more later.

Update 160: Just saw Michael Matz out on the track…he says there’s a possibility today is the day for Barbaro’s second cast change. It’s not a definite yet so will try to confirm when able to later. If it does happen today, let’s hope all goes well and xrays show continued healing for Bobby!

Update 159: Barbaro wins! That was the poll result: Barbaro: 272; Jazil 1; Other 1 (for 3yo of the year). I have taken the poll down as it was delaying the ‘performance’ of the site. I will need to relook at how to use polls without compromising overall site performance.

Update 158: Peter Brette was unable to visit today, but assumes Barbaro continues to do well. He did see an update on HRTV at 3 pm which said the same. The update also reminded us that while everything has gone very well thus far, Barbaro is a long way from being ‘out of the woods’, so we must remain cautious, there are complications that can still occur. (I knew HRTV had planned to do updates each day, as reported by the Bloodhorse, but I have not seen any for myself, I will try to tune in tomorrow.)

The Baltimore Sun’s Digest today included the following:

Barbaro is having a lazy weekend, enjoying his air conditioning at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, where he is recovering from a broken right rear leg. Yesterday, Dr. Corinne Sweeney, director of the facility, said Barbaro is fine and was chowing down on horse treats that arrived in Friday’s mail. … Dance in the Mood won the $750,000 CashCall Mile by 1 3/4 lengths at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif. Victor Espinoza guided Dance in the Mood, a daughter of 1989 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Sunday Silence, over one mile on the turf in a stakes-record 1:33.33.

I was surprised, when I tuned into ESPN yesterday to see Graham Motion (Fair Hill Trainer) being interviewed by Jeannine Edwards (who also lives locally), at Hollywood Park. Graham’s horse, Sweet Talker, actually finished second to Dance in the Mood.

Six weeks have now passed since Barbaro’s horrific accident, so while we understand things can still go wrong, we should be grateful Barbaro has done so well in the six weeks. I assume the next ‘event’ will be the second changing of the cast. I have no current insight into when this might happen (we had heard it might have been last week, that changed). Lets hope the cast change occurs uneventfully, and the pictures they can take during the cast switch show continued healing!

Mike Rea’s updates continue to show good progress.

Update 157: Just spoke to Peter Brette (sunday morning) and as far as he is aware all remains well (he of course would be informed otherwise if that was the case). Bobby had another good day yesterday.

I mentioned to Peter the poll we are currently running (Barbaro 211 votes, Jazil 1 vote, zero votes for others) which of course has no survey bias etc! We discussed what it might take to dislodge Barbaro from 3yo of the year, perhaps Bernadini winning the Travers and the Breeders Cup Classic (there is not a Breeders Cup race strictly for 3yos).

Peter said he may visit later today, if so I will try to catch up and get a quick report.

Update 156: We are experimenting with online polls to get some answers in terms of how everyone is thinking with respect to Barbaro, horse racing, and other horse related concerns (funding ideas etc). You can see the current poll question on the left hand column. I hope this first question is not difficult to answer, but it serves as a test to see that the polls work. (Edit: forgot Jazil, just added, and also, thanks Eliza for creating the polls)

England lost (end of world cup coverage here).

Letter from the Editor: Magnificent Barbaro is no one-trick pony is an older article but for some reason I did not link to it. Its a cool article, including the following excerpt:

Barbaro had blown away the field at the Kentucky Derby. It was the largest winning margin in years. For a newspaper editor, Barbaro made a great story. Just like Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex, he was dripping with local connections. The owner grew up in Delco. His wife worked here. Their farm was in West Grove. Barbaro raced at Delaware Park early in his career. And he was based, along with his trainer, at Fair Hill, Md.

Update 155: Seems like the Baltimore Sun is getting some good updates recently. Today’s (July 1) is from Barbaro’s skin rubs ‘all quite healed’ (thanks Gloria). It is below:

The skin rubs that occurred on Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro’s left side during transportation in a sling to and from the intensive care unit have “all quite healed” now. Dr. Corinne Sweeney, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, said yesterday that Barbaro’s side “is looking good.” She also responded to a question from a concerned fan concerning alternative treatments for laminitis, should that become a problem in his rear left foot from overuse. The fan said she hoped doctors at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals were aware of “herbology” and homeopathic remedies. Sweeney said: “Alternative methods of treatment are not pooh-poohed here. … Should treatment become necessary, the veterinary team is fully aware of traditional and alternative remedies.”

Update 154: Barbaro continues to do well. I spoke to Peter Brette this morning (saturday morning). The Jackson’s were actually at Fair Hill watching their horses train. They were in the clocker’s stand just after the (renovation) break. As I was jogging back past the clocker’s stand I thought I would put my interview ‘cap / helmet’ on and ask them a couple of questions. Well the Waquoit two year old I was on thought very differently, as we darted to the inside rail! The weather has been great here the last couple of mornings riding out. Now the focus is back on the world cup, England are playing today at 11 am, half of Fair Hill will be in the Hill Top (they do a fantastic english breakfast). I asked Peter if he was stopping by. He may, but it is also Kim’s birthday, so perhaps he may have other things to do (sorry, I cannot imagine doing other things when the world cup is on!)
update, 10:00 AM, saturday morning

Update 153: I just had a quick chat with Kathy Anderson (Barbaro’s Fair Hill vet). She did not have an update, she asked me if I had heard today. (Kathy, like some others directly connected to Barbaro, is operating under the assumption that no news is good news. Obviously if there was a problem, Kathy would be one of the first to be contacted.) We did discuss the current state and it seems his status has now shifted from a day-to-day situation to a week-to-week situation.

He will likely have better days (which it seems he is currently experiencing) and perhaps not as good days, in terms of his overall comfort on his injured leg, but until the cast is changed they are not really able to determine the status of the healing process (this is what I understand, not directly from Kathy). Obviously the longer they can leave the cast on (and Bobby remains comfortable) the more likely the healing process will continue unabated. We will continue to provide updates as we have them (i.e. we have no intention of shifting to week-to-week!)

On other news, I saw Man from Havana (is that his name ?) on the track this morning (he is pretty cute!) as I was coming onto the track to breeze a horse. As I was leaving after the breeze Better Talk Now had arrived on the track. Better Talk Now is (I believe) Fair Hill’s biggest earner and of course a Breeders Cup winner. I think he is being pointed for the United Nations a week tomorrow. It also appears Mike Rea continues his long recover process: After Evening Visit.

Update 152: Another good night for Barbaro last night (Thursday night). I was passing Michael Matz on the way to the track for my third set this morning (6:35am) and before I could ask my inevitable question…he said with a broad grin “he’s doing excellent.”
Updated Friday morning 7:10am

Update 151: No official update tonight. Had a quick chat with Kim (Brette), and there did not seem to be any new news. We discussed that if there was news to report they would know, so I think no news is good news.

Update 150: A lighthearted interview with Barbaro: In recovery, Barbaro still has plenty of horse sense. I of course loved this bit:

Well, the governor of Pennsylvania stopped by. And the Jacksons are here a lot. Sometimes they bring friends. And the media doesn’t know this, but Edgar and his family sneaked in last week to see me.

Given we noted this visit in update 117 Barbaro, at least, does not consider us media, we are just friends!

Update 149: The article Trainers, owners hold dream of discovering another Barbaro (thanks Barbara) includes some information on Barbaro’s new little brother, the co-star of our new pictures:

The Jacksons also own a full brother to Barbaro. He was born on March 15 this year and is growing up and stretching his legs at Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington, Ky.

“He has a little more white on his face than Barbaro does,” says Roy, adding that La Ville Rouge is again in foal to Dynaformer. The Jacksons hope that the same bloodlines might produce another wonderful result but also realize that pedigree never guarantees anything.

Update 148: The following are other insights I gleaned from my conversation with Michael (Matz) this morning. Gretchen Jackson is heavily involved in getting support for the (anti-) horse slaughter legislation that has been heavily discussed here. I believe time to call your representitives is very soon. He mentioned he believes the Barbaro Fund is now over $600k. He also talked about a school teacher, who used to work for Michael back in his show jumping days, had her students follow Barbaro’s career as a class project. She used elements of Barbaro’s story as teaching aids etc. Anyway, apparently the kids really got into the project, and once it was complete sent it to Michael. Michael past it on to the Jackson’s who were very impressed (as was Michael). They are now looking to turn it all into a Children’s Book! Pretty Cool. Lastly, Michael noted that when Dean Richardson visited Barbaro this morning he was lieing down, he saw the doc and got up without trouble at all. It seems he is pretty comfortable getting up and down, and that is a great thing.

In all this let us not forget fellow Fair Hill horse trainer Mike Rea who has been moved to ‘step down’, apparently a step up!

Update 147: Another good night for Barbaro (wednesday night). I walked back from the wood chip track with Michael Matz and he had heard from Dr. Dean Richardson. It also appears they are no longer planning to change the cast this week. Michael mentioned when he went to see Barbaro yesterday, and was grooming him, he was standing on his injured leg while using the other hind leg to scratch his ear (I know we have heard this before, but it is a good example of his current comfort on the injured leg). Michael gave me some more information, which I will update later (have four or five more horses to ride.) I did also see Miraculous Miss out training this morning, she is looking good.
update: 7:40 am, thursday, Fair Hill clocker’s stand.

Update 146: The new pictures are uploaded to the gallery. They are of Bobby’s baby full brother and his mother, La Ville Rouge. Thanks Kim (Brette) for acquiring the pictures, and Eliza for getting them on the site. His baby brother is pretty cute! The following comment was left by a vet, S. McC. which sounds just like a conversation I have had with vets at Fair Hill, it appears to summarize well the role of the hardware, and the ‘race against time’ Barbaro faces:

I do have a comment regarding the internal hardware. (I am an equine vet, though not an orthopedic surgeon.) Under ideal circumstances, it will all remain in place. If some portion of it were to become problematic, it would not be difficult to remove individual screws, etc. This is done with some horses after condylar fracture repair. Most horses who undergo fetlock arthodesis (fusion) which was the primary part of Bobby’s more complicated surgery, have the plates and screws left in place. Once fusion takes place the plate could in theory be removed but ordinaarily would be left alone.

Right now Bobby is in a race between the ability of the bones to fuse, and the ability of the hardware to withstand the stresses of use. As healing makes the bones more stable, there is progressively less stress on the plates and screws. Until then, metal fatigue is still a worry.

Update 145: Just got a voice-mail from Peter Brette. While he was unable to visit today he has heard Barbaro had another good day (wednesday).

Update 144: I have created a separate section for those interested in brainstorming fundraising ideas: Barbaro: Fund Raising Ideas. I thought this might help focus some of the great fund raising discussions (I am all for discussion, but too often I have seen great internet discussion disipate into the ether before action takes place, I hope this helps maintain the focus / enthusiam).

I did catch up with Barclay again this morning and told him that I was now a member of the media, and asked him for a quote re: Showing Up. Barclay’s response: “Its a pleasure leading him over each time”. (Note: Barclay is notorious for not being overly comfortable with the media, I hope he can make an exception for me in the future!) Given I am media, I felt I should ask him more questions, so I asked him what it was like to gallop Ruffian. He responded that he really only rode her when her main rider was not available. He reminded me she was never headed in a horse race. I also asked him about the comment he made about Barbaro after seeing him win in Laurel last year (Barbaro’s second race). He had mentioned to a friend of mine at the time it was the most impressive thing he had seen since Secretariat. Today he confirmed it was truly impressive. Interview over! (Note, it is pretty cool that at Fair Hill this morning, there were two Kentucky Derby winning trainers at the track training their respective strings, Michael on Messaging, Barclay observing things from the ‘gap’. In previous years Barclay would also be on a pony, I presume they do not have one yet for his Fair Hill string.)

I am hoping later today to get some new pictures up on the site. They are not Bobby, but I think they will be popular (how’s that for some ‘buzz’.) I don’t have any more information on the cast situation at this point (I know people have been asking, I have not been able to catch up with Kathy Anderson etc.)

Update 143: Another good night for Barbaro last night (tuesday night). Caught up with Michael Matz on the wood chip track this morning. The dirt track is closed due to the excessive weather we have had. Barclay Tagg is also here today (he has a string at Fair Hill, Showing Up was here last year). Barclay is in great form after his big win the other day. He asked me what I was up to work-wise. I used to freelance (exercise rider) for him a couple of years ago. I should have told him I had joined the media and asked for a Showing Up quote from him!
update 7:50, wednesday morning, Fair Hill clockers stand.

Update 142: I thought I would copy Kim’s comment verbatim re: their visit this afternoon to Barbaro:

As Alex mentioned Peter and I visited Bobby today, Peter gave him a good currying which he loved his eyes had a sleepy look in them and he was curling his lip so I think all in all he enjoyed a little pampering, I was the hair lady and got to detangle his tail..

Of course he had loads of carrots, mints, pats and kisses.

He really did seem happy and comfortable, I hope he knows how much we all love him, I’m sure he does.

Thanks again for all your prayers and good wishes, with re to the retirement fund thing I was thinking more along the lines of supporting an existing organisation, will try to get a list of reputable ones and go from there.

Update 141: Just spoke to Peter Brette and he and Kim visited Bobby today. Peter said he was in great form, they groomed him etc. Hopefully Kim will be able to provide a first hand report in the comments later (when I called I could hear their young son in the background, so I assume it was busy family time!) I asked Peter if he knew the day for the cast change, and he was not sure yet.

Update 140: New Bolton Center’s press release today (tuesday) confirms Barbaro is doing well. It includes:

Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro is pleasing his veterinarians with his progress, as he recovers from a shattered hind leg sustained at the Preakness on May 20. “Barbaro continues to improve; he is maintaining his weight and his coat looks good,” said Dr. Corinne Sweeney, associate dean of Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine and executive hospital director of the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals. “I would say he is a happy, healthy horse.”