Dr. Dean Richardson, reported improvement in Barbaro's condition.

Dr. Dean Richardson, reported improvement in Barbaro's condition.

Associated Press

Barbaro Has 'Improved Significantly' After Latest Surgery

The chief of surgery at University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center said Jan. 15 that Barbaro had “improved significantly” after undergoing surgery two days earlier to remove more of the left rear hoof that has been impacted by a bout of laminitis.

“He is doing much better, but he has a long way to go,” Dr. Dean Richardson said of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner who had been dealt a serious setback in his effort to recover from a broken right rear leg and the laminitis. “He is eating well and we have not had him in his sling for the last 24 hours.”

Richardson said the Dynaformer colt, who has been at New Bolton since sustaining his broken leg in the May 20 Preakness Stakes, has a good appetite and his vital signs are normal. He is, however, confined to his stall in the intensive care unit at New Bolton. If necessary to make him more comfortable, the colt will be placed in the protective sling at some point during the day.

That is a radical departure from the scene two weeks ago, when Barbaro had made such dramatic improvement from his injuries that he was allowed outside to exercise and had the casts removed from both his right rear leg and his left rear hoof. Plans were being made to possible relocate the colt to a horse farm where he could continue his recovery.

In what was termed a "significant setback," Richardson removed damaged tissue from Barbaro's left hind hoof Jan. 9 after the colt became noticeably uncomfortable.

Four days later, Barbaro underwent surgery again, with another section of the hoof removed. "The left hind deep digital flexor tendon was cut to help decrease the pull on the coffin bone by that tendon," Richardson said in a prepared statement. "This was previously done in July, but the tendon had healed and was pulling on the coffin bone, contributing to the malalignment of the coffin bone.

While the recent developments represent a setback for Barbaro, co-owner Roy Jackson said he his wife Gretchen are hopeful of a positive outcome.

“I don’t think anybody knows” what the future holds for Barbaro, Roy Jackson said Jan. 15. “He is comfortable and his temperature and heart rate are normal. It is a real lesson in taking things one day at a time. Moving him has been put on hold for awhile, but hopefully one day he will be able to move on to somewhere else.”

On a more positive note, Richardson reported Jan. 12 that there was no infection in either of the colt’s rear limbs.