Barbaro continues to inspire hope for a miraculous recovery.

Barbaro continues to inspire hope for a miraculous recovery.

Sabina Louise Pierce

Gretchen Jackson: It's Still Day to Day, But Barbaro 'Starting to Blossom'

Roy and Gretchen Jackson were at Keeneland Sunday looking at September sale yearlings. But their Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro wasn't far from their minds.

Gretchen Jackson talked about the ups and downs with Barbaro, who continues to recuperate at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center from the shattered hind leg he suffered in the Preakness (gr. I).

THE BLOOD-HORSE: We get regular reports on Barbaro from the New Bolton Center. From your standpoint, how is he doing?
GRETCHEN JACKSON: "You're naturally guarded. But for a not medically-educated person such as me, in the last month since his crisis with laminitis, he seems to have gone so much in the right direction. He seems to use all four legs better to equal his weight, to spread his weight amongst four legs, to stand more. And he has never ceased from eating up a storm. Arms and legs included. He would like to grab your arm or leg or hand. He just is doing it all remarkably well. He's just phenomenal.

"For me, who is madly in love with this horse, it's increased my awe for him since his injury. He has just carried that look throughout that 'I can deal.' He's just told us more than our brains have told us. We've just responded more to him and how he's been than going by the medical books.

"We were like that (close), at least I was, (to not) putting him through any more hoops when he got the laminitis. I was really upset; is this fair to keep him (alive)? (Dr.) Dean Richardson said, 'I'd like to try a few things. I will not keep going if there is (no way to control) pain.' It was pretty dire straits there. And we all agreed (to keep going) because there's Barbaro, looking out his stall door, saying, 'Hey, can't I vote, too? I want to be given every chance' They've done a super job at New Bolton."

TBH: Following Barbaro's injury, you could have limited the information released about him. Why didn't you?
JACKSON: "When he won the Kentucky Derby, I thought we lost our horse. He was the world's horse; he was everybody's horse. Everybody knew him. He started getting fan mail and all that stuff that happens to a Kentucky Derby winner, I suppose. And we just thought we owed it to the public, all those people who sent him notes, flowers, carrots, sugar, mints. I mean you should see what the public has done."

TBH: How do you approach Barbaro's situation now. Is it still day to day?
Jackson: "Yes, it's day to day. I never have asked Dean (Richardson) when is he going to get out of here. I have never asked him. Maybe Dean doesn't either. It (Barbaro's recovery) doesn't seem to have gone back. We haven't had a crisis since the laminitis. His coat is shiny. He lost a lot of his tail. Did you know that? (It's from) balancing him coming out from operations; I don't know if it's hands on him or what. But he lost a lot of his tail. But that's all coming back. Everything is just starting to blossom, and you want to see light at the end of the tunnel. We haven't had Dean say there is light is at the end of the tunnel."

TBH: What are you doing here today at Keeneland?
JACKSON: "We come down here every year, and if we can pick up something that we like -- breeding, conformation, and the price is right -- we get it."