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Monday, May 22, 2006

Saving a horse

Sabina Louise Pierce/University of
Pennsylvania, via Associated Press

Dr. Dean Richardson guiding Barbaro,
who was gravely injured in the Preakness
on Saturday, as he was transported from
a pool after surgery.

A Desperate Rush to Save a Derby-Winning Colt

Published: May 22, 2006

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa., May 21 — Barbaro's racing career is over, but a valiant and costly effort was made Sunday to repair the right hind leg of the horse that sustained a catastrophic ankle break before an audience of millions early in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.

On Sunday night at the University of Pennsylvania's George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals, Barbaro emerged from an operation that lasted more than four hours and a post-operation recovery that took another three.

While the surgeon who performed the operation, Dr. Dean Richardson, was pleased enough with how things went to remark that Barbaro "practically jogged" to his stall, his prognosis was more grave. "To be brutally honest, there's still enough chance for things going bad that it's still a coin toss even though everything went well," Dr. Richardson said.

It was remarkable that the surgery was attempted at all. Most horses with injuries as severe as Barbaro's, Dr. Richardson acknowledged, would have been euthanized on the racetrack. Dr. Richardson said that the injury was far worse than originally thought.

But this colt was the Kentucky Derby winner with an estimated value of $30 million, and his owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, were well heeled enough to foot the bill for the costly, and risky, surgery and rehabilitation.

In the operating room, Dr. Richardson worked with a team of eight: two residents, an intern, two anesthesiologists and three nurses.

"I could see no evidence of pre-existing injury," Dr. Richardson said. "It was just a bad step."

Dr. Richardson praised Barbaro's jockey, Edgar Prado, for skillfully bringing the horse to a stop and preventing further injury Saturday.

posted by Steve @ 10:56:00 AM

10:56:00 AM

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