The Special Eclipse Award, which honors outstanding individual achievements or contributions to Thoroughbred racing, isn’t given out every year. Not surprisingly, the award for 2006 has been bestowed upon Roy and Gretchen Jackson and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at New Bolton Center.
The Jacksons, owners of Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Barbaro, and the representatives from the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, who were responsible for the horse’s emergency surgery and continued recovery, were presented with the award for their outstanding efforts in saving the colt.
In the hours that followed the near fatal injury to Barbaro in the 2006 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the nation’s attention was focused on the Jacksons—who campaigned Barbaro with trainer Michael Matz and jockey Edgar Prado—and the veterinary staff at the New Bolton Center, led by chief of surgery Dr. Dean Richardson.
On May 21, 2006, Richardson led the New Bolton medical team into a nine-hour operation on multiple fractures to Barbaro’s right hind leg, as well as a dislocated fetlock. The surgery required a metal rod and 23 screws to help stabilize a long pastern bone that had shattered into more than 20 pieces. In the weeks following his recovery, Barbaro was struck with laminitis in his opposite hind foot, requiring the doctors at New Bolton to place Barbaro in a sling for nearly 12 hours at a time. Barbaro pulled through the crisis, but remains in the intensive care unit at the New Bolton Center.
(Article appears in the January 27, 2007 issue of The Blood-Horse)