Prado visits an improving Barbaro

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The jockey paid his first visit to the injured Kentucky Derby champion.

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. -- Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro is progressing so well he might not have the cast on his severely injured right hind leg changed for several weeks.

Dr. Dean Richardson, the surgeon who repaired Barbaro's shattered bones after the colt broke down at the Preakness Stakes on May 20, said Tuesday the prized patient has had an "incredibly good week -- far better than I would have ever hoped so far, so far, so far."

Richardson said the fiberglass cast on Barbaro's leg will be assessed daily, but there's no urgency for a change.

"Right now this horse is walking so well on his limb, walks around the stall, he's very active," Richardson said at a news conference at the University of Pennsylvania's George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals. "If he continues to look as good as he does, he can wear this cast for several more weeks. It has been a surprisingly good fitting cast considering I thought there would be a loosening of it or swelling above it. Neither one has occurred, and that's why we're letting it stay in place."

Meanwhile, jockey Edgar Prado saw Barbaro for the first time since the Preakness break down, stopping by his stall in the intensive care unit for a 10-minute visit. The jockey has been credited with saving the colt's life by pulling him up quickly to avoid further injury.

"I definitely feel a lot better," said a smiling Prado, who arrived in a black stretch limousine. "I'm feeling heartbroken, but I'm feeling better. His progress is helping a lot, but he isn't out of the woods yet. We're just happy that he continues to do good."

Following Barbaro's five-hour-plus surgery May 21, Richardson had said the prospects of recovery were "50-50."

That has changed slightly:

"I was going to call a news conference to say it's officially 51 percent," Richardson said, smiling. "Seriously, every day that goes by is a big day, and in terms of some of the complications, some of them were more likely to rear their head in the earlier stages in the convalescence."

Laminitis, an often fatal foot disease, or failure of the injury to heal properly can occur later, Richardson said, "but things are definitely better eight days post op. But it's still a long, long way from being discharged from the hospital."

Richardson said his prized patient has shown the ability to adapt from one extreme to another: Two weeks ago the horse was spending every morning galloping around a track, and now spends 24 hours a day in his 12-by-12 stall barely moving. A good attitude has been a huge help.

"It makes a big difference in terms of how well they rest," Richardson said. "Certain horses rest well. They figure out how to take care of themselves in a stall, how to lie down and get up without injuring themselves. I think this horse, so far, has shown every evidence that he is that type of horse."

Also making their daily visit were owners Gretchen and Roy Jackson, who live about a 10-minute drive from the hospital.

"He was just walking around when I went to see him, it was great to see," Gretchen Jackson.

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