Dr. Dean Richardson, at a Thursday morning press conference at the New Bolton Center.

Dr. Dean Richardson, at a Thursday morning press conference at the New Bolton Center.

Associated Press

Laminitis Strikes Barbaro; Survival Chances Called 'Poor'

Classic winner Barbaro has developed "acute, severe" laminitis in his uninjured left hind foot, and his prognosis for recovery is "poor," according to Dr. Dean Richardson, chief of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday morning, Richardson stated that Barbaro's laminitis is "as bad a case as you can get." In a resection procedure done Wednesday, a large portion of Barbaro's hoof wall was removed, and just 20% of the wall is still attached to the coffin bone, according to Richardson. His left hind leg is in a foam cast presently as they try to re-grow the hoof wall.

Barbaro suffered major complications a week ago and has undergone three surgical procedures during that time. Last Saturday, Richardson replaced the titanium plate and 27 screws and treated two infections--one in the injured right hind leg and a small abscess on the sole of his left hind hoof. Barbaro shattered his right hind leg at the beginning of the May 20 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), and underwent surgery the following day at New Bolton.

Richardson said the Thursday press conference was called because of the great concern, speculation, and interest in Barbaro. He dismissed rumors of impending euthanasia, but added that the horse's prognosis had been diminished.

According to Richardson, Barbaro has stability in his right rear leg, and that injury is under "reasonable control. But the big problem is a catastrophic case of laminitis in his left hind. With laminitis, the connection between the bone and hoof separates, and that can be excruciatingly painful, like re-growing a nail in humans after it's been pulled out. Horses do recover from this but it's a longshot. I'm not going to sugarcoat the situation. It is a poor percentage for horses to recover, but as long as he's not suffering we will continue to try."

Richardson said recovery, if it occurs, would take many months. For now, Barbaro appears comfortable enough. "He nickers, he's eating well, he has excellent G.I. function, his temperature is normal, his heart rate is good, and he is capable of walking around his stall," said Richardson. "His owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, and his trainer, Michael Matz, visit him daily, and the Jacksons' absolute concern--their only concern--is for the comfort of the horse on a daily basis. We will go on as long as the horse acts normally."

Barbaro is in a sling for portions of each day to aid in his mobility. He is also undergoing what Richardson termed "an aggressive pain management regimen."

Barbaro, a son of Dynaformer who had career earnings of $2,203,200, was undefeated in six starts after winning the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) previous to the Preakness. He also won the Florida Derby (gr. I) earlier this year.

-CBS Video:July 13 Press Conference
-CBS Video:Barbaro in Sling and Walking
-Transcript of Press Conference (PDF)

From TheHorse.com
-Understanding the Threat of Laminitis
-Dr. Ric Redden Explains the Causes of Laminitis
-Dr. Ric Redden on Prevention of Contralateral Laminitis
-Using the Anderson Sling to Treat Laminitis

-Barbaro Photos Available at The Blood-Horse Photo Store