Sunday June 25
Update 132: I spoke to Michael Matz this morning, and no updates yet from New Bolton (sometimes the call comes in later than other times). He did mention he visited yesterday afternoon and all was well, so saturday afternoon is our latest update. I will try to get more information later, but it may be a tough day for updates (England are playing etc!)
A nice win for Showing Up, the Jackson's and Barclay Tagg. Although I missed the race, I am told he was impressive. Also noteworthy is Film Maker's nice return to the races, winning a grade 3. When the time was right I did want to mention how well Better Talk Now ran in the race before the Preakness, I guess now is as good a time as any!. Both these horses (Better Talk Now and Film Maker) are trained by Graham Motion, who is another fantastic trainer at Fair Hill. I don't know how old each horse is but they seem to have been running at a very high level for a long time!
On a more sombre note, when I was in San Francisco last weekend, Fair Hill was reminded what a dangerous sport we participate. All things can be going so well one minute, and then distaster strikes (well Barbaro does remind us of that everyday for sure). Anyway, trainer Mike Rea was involved in a horrific accident, and is currently in the ICU in Baltimore. His family have created a blog: Mike Rea's Recovery Info & Updates. Mike was actually the "exercise rider" (he is actually a trainer) cited in the article we posted a while back: Matz: 'I'm just sad for racing':
Matz said that an exercise rider who works for another trainer at Fair Hill rode past Matz on the track the other morning and offered encouragement.
"I think he's a born-again Christian," Matz said. "He was shook up. He said, 'The Lord doesn't give you anything you can't handle.' Then he rode away a couple of strides, stopped, looked back and said, 'He must think you're an awfully tough guy.' "
Matz chuckled, probably for the first time in a week.
I asked Mike Rea about the quote shortly after the article appeared, and while he confessed to the quote, he hoped it was the journalist, and not Michael (Matz), who confused him for an exercise rider and not a trainer!
Update 133: Michael Matz showed up at the local bar halfway through the England game to buy his lunch to go. (I am not sure he was expecting half of Fair Hill to be at the bar watching the world cup.) Anyway, he said things remain the same for Barbaro as of this morning, so that is good news! Of course England winning is good news too, although Michael did leave before Beckham scored the only goal (and what a goal it was)!
Monday June 26
Update 134: I have not yet had a chance to catch up with Michael Matz's barn yet this morning (but will return to Fair Hill once 'training' is over to get an update). The weather this morning was very wet, thus many barns stayed dry by not going out to the racetracks. I did get a chance to talk to 'Chuck', a Fair Hill vet and associate of Kathy Anderson's. (Chuck actually was the vet kind enough to call me as soon as Barbaro was out of surgery (Update 5) so I could post that update ASAP.) He confirmed the two key things at this stage are the need for the bones to heal and take over the work currently being done by the 'hardware'; and the potential for Laminitis. I imagine the former is the bigger concern (the cast replacement process indicated this was progressing in the right direction); the potential for the latter would increase if Barbaro is not comfortable putting weight on his injured leg (so far this does not seem to be the case); and if Barbaro was not comfortable getting up and down. Chuck mentioned the best thing for Barbaro is the ability to lie down and sleep for a couple of hours. The process of getting up, however, puts the most pressure (torque was mentioned) on the injured leg. Chuck explained to me the cause of Laminitis, but it was a little technical for me, so I have linked to the wikipedia entry.
Update 135: Just spoke to Michael Matz. I asked him "Everything good [with Barbaro] Michael", his reply: "So far". Thus our update for this morning, Barbaro continues to do well. It has been five weeks since the surgery, very cool, but clearly we have a long way to go yet. The key issues are described below (update 134).
updated 10:50 am, monday
Update 136: A nice article from the Baltimore Sun: New Bolton director cautions against Barbaro complacency (thanks Lynnette) reiterates some of the issues we noted in update 134, and makes it clear that we do still have a long way to go. The following is an excerpt:
Sweeney said that while the prospect of infection drops dramatically the further down the road Barbaro gets, laminitis, an infection that can occur in Barbaro's left foot due to overuse, "is always a concern." Though it, too, lessens every day, it doesn't totally go away until Barbaro is back, solidly on all fours.
"His whole good health and the way he's bearing his weight is encouraging," she said. "But hearing good news about him every day can give the impression that nothing more can go wrong, and that's not the case."
Update 137: Barbaro continues to do well. I just spoke to Peter Brette. He mentioned they may change his cast again later this week. Peter is planning to visit tomorrow, and I think Kim (his wife) may also join him. Kim also posted a comment, which includes the following excerpt:
Just to let you know Barbaro is doing well, a little bored as to be expected, Peter hasn't been able to see him as much as he would like but we are going to try go see him tomorrow.
There is something I have been thinking of ever since this whole thing happened and was wondering what everyone else thought.
This is of course my "Kim Brette ",s personal thoughts which have not been discussed with the Jacksons, New Bolten etc etc but I have a very strong belief that Barbaro should have a fund of his own to help retired, injured, maybe even re schooled racehorses for the rest of the time they are here.
I think this sentiment is shared by many who frequent this site. (Her comment is posted under the "Your overwhelming Response" post).
I also wanted to update you briefly on Mike Rea (freak training accident June 16). His latest blog entry shows that Sunday was a good day for Mike. spoke to one of his sister's today who noted that today was also a good day. I volunteered to help a little with their web site (I was sooooo impressed they started a blog I could not help but 'get in the way'). Anyway, I am glad Mike seems to be progressing in the right direction!
Tuesday June 27
Update 138: Another good night for Barbaro. Just spoke to Michael Matz who had heard from Dean Richardson. Dr. Richardson also noted that they have a patient with more 'hardware' than "Bobby", a Thompson's Gazelle.
update tuesday, 9:30 AM
Update 139: A couple of articles recently have questioned the public's ongoing concern for Barbaro and whether he is really missed and the merits of following a horse who no longer races. The first: Maybe Barbaro won't be missed after all seems to have incensed many with the following ending quote:
This victory by Showing Up has the potential to reinvigorate interest among even the casual racing fan. Showing Up may not run in the traditional summer events for three-year-olds, but it will be interesting to follow him in his future endeavors.
Let's hope that thoroughbred racing does not drop the ball in promoting this potentially new star. It will be great to write about an active horse and his accomplishments, instead of medical updates on a retired thoroughbred.
I guess insensitive would be an understatement here. All that aside, while Barbaro has clearly run the most impressive performance so far this year (I think even Don Agriss would agree to that); and Showing Up has the same owners as "Bobby" (so we were rooting for him); one cannot forget Bernadini when considering other performances by top three year olds. I also think main stream media (like Agriss) has dropped the ball by not realizing that Barbaro has the potential to engage even the most casual racing fan as he progresses through his recovery.
The second article Barbaro Trots Back Into Obscurity appears similarly insensitive and clueless.
These are countered by this piece from the Daily Racing Form: If Eclipse Awards came out now . . . which includes the following excerpt:
And who is my 2006 Horse of the First Half of the Year? Barbaro, purely because of the way he captured the public's imagination in the days between the Derby and his ill-fated Preakness.
On another note, Tim received an e-mail from Mike Rea's sister when she saw our initial link to Mike's site here. It included the following:
I love what you had to share about him and his conversation with Matz. It sounds just like my little brother! I recall his reaction to Barbaro's injury clearly - he cried as if he had just lost his best friend. His family and friends were all very aware of his pride in a horse from Fair Hill with Barbaro's accomplishments. In fact, one of the happiest days of his career was when he began training there.
Good luck Mike in your long road to recovery. We are all rooting for you.
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."
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 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.
Wednesday June 28
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 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 dissipate 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 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 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.
Thursday June 29
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 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 representatives 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 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 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 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.
Friday June 30
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 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.
Saturday July 1
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 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 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.