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Barbaro’s Final Campaign

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The 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro was euthanized on Monday after a long ordeal that began with the running of the Preakness Stakes. This was a hard decision by his owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who indicated that the pain that Barbaro felt was no longer manageable.

Born April 29, 2003, Barbaro was an American thoroughbred that won the 2006 Kentucky Derby by a decisive margin. Undefeated going into the race, he was sent off as second best by the betting public. At odds of 6 to 1 in a field of 20 horses, he charged ahead to finish by seven lengths. This was accomplished without jockey Edgar Prado asking the horse for top speed.

Barbaro began the Preakness by bolting out of the starter’s gate prematurely. He disengaged the magnetically locked doors with his nose. On the official start he was off in a better position than he had been in the Derby, but soon he was under duress. Those who were watching will never forget Prado pulling Barbaro up and bringing him to a gentle stop. He dismounted and, using his shoulder, acted like a crutch. Bernardini went on to win the race.

Barbaro was taken to the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. It was determined that his leg was broken in three places. For a horse, this is a life threatening injury. In fact, had this been almost any other horse; one that had not won a major stakes race, he would have been put down immediately.

After some bad turns in July — including a severe case of laminitis in the left rear hoof — there was what appeared to be light at the end of the tunnel. In late August, it appeared that the leg was almost healed. In October, it looked like his laminitis was improving. And then in early November, his cast was removed and replaced with a splinted bandage. In December, the bandage was removed completely.

Things finally went down hill in January when, because of all the pressure compensation his front legs took to support his hind legs, they developed laminitis. Now, Barbaro could not comfortably stand at all. Barbaro was euthanized on January 29th at around 10:30 a.m local time.

“Certainly, grief is the price we all pay for love” said co-owner Gretchen Jackson.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.