Barbaro rallies after hoof scare


PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The daily strolls are out for now, replaced with several hours in a sling. It’s a setback, for sure, but Barbaro’s outlook is not as grim as it was six months ago.

The Kentucky Derby winner shows almost no sign of infection in either of his hind legs, and has more healthy tissue on his diseased left hind hoof than he did in July when he was first stricken with laminitis.

“We do not believe that this setback puts him all the way back to where he was in July,” chief surgeon Dean Richardson said Friday in an update issued by the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center.

Richardson said that it was “very disappointing” to suffer a setback so close to when Barbaro was set to leave the hospital, but the colt now looks bright, has a strong appetite, and was comfortable.

“We have more tissue on the bottom of his foot that is healthy,” Richardson said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “There is at least some hoof wall laterally that will help us stabilize his foot. There is no significant infection in either limb. He has a solid column of healed bone in the right hind that gives us more management options.”

Barbaro is spending hours in his protective sling, needed to deter sudden movement and make the colt comfortable as he fights back from his latest setback from laminitis.

Barbaro has been rehabilitating at the center since shattering three bones in his right hind leg just a few strides into the Preakness on May 20.

Barbaro had become uncomfortable on his left hind foot in recent days a week after a new cast was put on.

the foot. The cast was removed after some new separation on the inside portion of his hoof was found.

“The medial aspect of the hoof was always going to be a problem because of the way it was healing,” Richardson told the AP. “The cast did not cause this problem. This issue with the foot was probably inevitable.”

Richardson said Barbaro has soft bandages on the laminitis-stricken hoof, though that could change in the next few days. The colt is confined to his ICU stall and unable to take his short, daily walks. Co-owner Gretchen Jackson visits daily and feeds him grass from her farm.

After his injury in the Preakness, Barbaro developed severe laminitis, caused by uneven weight distribution in the limbs. The result was that 80 percent of his left hind hoof was removed in mid July.

The disease, called laminitis or founder, involves inflammation and structural damage to tissue that bonds the horse’s bone to the inner wall of the hoof.

AP Racing Writer Richard Rosenblatt also contributed to this report.

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