Industry Reaction to Death of Barbaro

Robert L. Evans, Churchill Downs Incorporated president and chief executive officer:
“Churchill Downs Incorporated and the entire Kentucky Derby family are deeply saddened by the passing of Barbaro. Our hearts and prayers are with his owners, Gretchen and Roy Jackson; trainer Michael Matz and his staff, Dr. Dean Richardson and the incredible staff at the New Bolton Center; jockey Edgar Prado and his family; and all of the people around the country and the world who have been touched by this wonderful and courageous horse.  Barbaro proved he was a remarkable horse last spring when he scored one of the most dominant victories in the 132-year history of the Kentucky Derby, but the courage he displayed in his fight for life since his injury on May 20 proved that he was more special that we could have possibly imagined on the first Saturday in May.

“We salute the Jacksons, Dr. Richardson and the entire staff at the New Bolton Center for the love, dedication and compassion they displayed in their long battle to nurse Barbaro back to health. It is our hope that the incredible effort to save Barbaro’s life, and the lessons learned and discoveries made during that work, will lead to greater understanding and new treatments for ailments such as laminitis and major injuries to the leg and foot.  It is our fondest hope that in years to come many other horses will benefit from the work performed at the New Bolton Center during Barbaro’s fight to recover. That would be a wonderful addition to the legacy of a brilliant horse that was at his best on Kentucky Derby day, when the entire world was watching him on racing’s biggest and brightest stage.”

Alex Waldrop, chief executive officer, National Thoroughbred Racing Association:
“On behalf of the Thoroughbred racing industry, we send our condolences to Roy and Gretchen Jackson, Michael Matz, Edgar Prado, and to everyone involved with Barbaro. We are deeply grateful to Dr. Dean Richardson and the team at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine for all they did to try to save him. I would also like to express condolences – and thanks – to the millions of fans whose hearts were touched by Barbaro during his brilliant racing career and throughout his gallant struggle to recover. His memory will live forever. America’s compassion and love for Barbaro speak to the incredible bond that people share with Thoroughbreds and our sport. There have been significant advances in recent years in our ability to ensure the health and safety of our equine athletes. The industry remains focused on this issue, and we will continue to work with owners, horsemen, tracks, veterinarians and researchers, as well as the foundations that support them.”

Mike Gathagan, vice president of communications, Maryland Jockey Club (operates Pimlico Racecourse, site of the Preakness Stakes):
“On behalf of the entire team at the Maryland Jockey Club, we join the Thoroughbred racing community and many world-wide Barbaro fans in expressing our sincerest and deepest sympathy on the passing of such a magnificent and beloved champion. Barbaro will never be forgotten, having touched many lives with his stirring victory in the Kentucky Derby, and his courageous battle to overcome such a severe injury.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Barbaro’s family of connections, owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson, trainer Michael Matz, jockey Edgar Prado, and Dr. Dean Richardson and his superb team at the New Bolton Center, whose dedication and perseverance in the hard-fought effort to save Barbaro’s life has been truly remarkable.”

Co-owner Gretchen Jackson:"Certainly, grief is the price we all pay for love." .

Peter Brette, Barbaro's exercise rider and assistant trainer for Michael Matz:"We loved him. He was great. He did everything we ever asked of him. He could have been one of the best. What a fighter he was."

Breeder Bill Sanborn, on the colt who was foaled and raised at Sanborn Chase at Springmint Farm near Nicholasville, Ky.: "Everything was looking really, really good, and of course I honestly thought that the horse was going to pull it off. It just wasn't meant to be. It didn't surprise me that he fought so long. He was a great horse."

David Switzer, executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association: "This horse was a hero. His owners went above and beyond the call of duty to save this horse. It's an unfortunate situation, but I think they did the right thing in putting him down."

Dr. Larry Bramlage, a veterinarian at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, who said Barbaro lived as long as he did because of Richardson's solid decision-making: "It's kind of like playing a chess game. Whenever you get confronted with something different, you have to make the right moves. You have to be impressed with the number of right moves Dr. Richardson made. They got close, and if not for a little bad luck they would have made it."

Edwin Merryman, who trains horses at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., where Barbaro once trained: "It's a sorry day for racing. I have all the respect in the world for what Michael Matz did for the horse, and what the Jacksons attempted to do. Barbaro will be missed."

Dr. Dan Dreyfuss, who treated Barbaro on the track at the Preakness and remained involved in the recovery process for months: "It's a loss not only for all of racing, but for everyone from Maryland to South Dakota to California."

Dr. Nick Meittinis, who treated Barbaro at Pimlico Race Course, minutes after the horse broke down: "We were always afraid of laminitis but thought that treating him was definitely something worth pursuing. And for a while, I really thought he was out of the woods."

 Mike Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission: "I think you have to commend Dr. Richardson and his staff and the Jacksons for putting the resources into the horse to help him survive. Had he made it, it certainly would have been a positive for this industry."

Scott Wells, Remington Park vice president and general manager:
“Only a few weeks ago, Barbaro was doing so well they were talking about releasing him from the hospital and allowing him to go to his owners’ farm.  It broke my heart when I read of his latest setback.  I was sure of only two things; number one, that Barbaro would continue to get the best care possible and number two, that if the time arrived when he began to suffer, he would be humanely euthanized.  My heart goes out to every person who had anything to do with him.  The effort, expense and compassion displayed by his owners and all his many caretakers were truly exemplary. For most Thoroughbreds, winning the Kentucky Derby is the ultimate achievement.  But in a sense, Barbaro surpassed even that.  As fans around the world sent him cards and carrots and kept up with his fight for survival, Barbaro reminded us of the special spiritual bond that exits between horses and humans.  Barbaro will always hold a special place in the hearts of horse lovers and among the legends of the American turf.”

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