Maryland Commission to Review Running of Preakness, Barbaro's Injury

In its review of information at its regular monthly meeting concerning the injury to Barbaro, the Maryland Racing Commission has decided to review the stewards' tape of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) to determine whether they can shed further light on exactly what happened to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner.

Barbaro, who won the Kentucky Derby by the largest margin in 60 years, broke his right, rear leg shortly after the start of the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course May 20. Barbaro continues to recover at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa.

His surgeon Dean Richardson has said the injury appears to have been caused by a "catastrophic misstep."

But Maryland Jockey Club president and chief operating officer Lou Raffetto told the commission a frame-by-frame review of the stewards' tapes shows there may have been an incident between Barbaro and Brother Derek.

"We can't say 100 percent because it is in shadow," Raffetto said. "But it appears just as the horses are entering the shadow something happened."

Raffetto had the film played, frame-by-frame, for the Baltimore Sun in his Pimlico office May 14. This is what it showed:

Brother Derek got a late start from the gate and was behind and to the right of Barbaro as they headed down the track. At about the eighth pole, Barbaro appears to have an open path to the front, but for some reason swerves to his right, into an opening for which Brother Derek is aiming.

When Brother Derek's jockey, Alex Solis, sees Barbaro directly in front of him, he sits back and pulls hard in an effort to slow his horse. Just as the horses enter a shadowed area, a side view shows Brother Derek's right front leg and Barbaro's right rear leg coming close. The shadow, however, obscures a clear image of whether their legs came in contact.

But in the next frame, Brother Derek's head is pulled strongly right, Barbaro's head comes up and his jockey, Edgar Prado, realizes something is wrong and makes his first effort to pull up his horse.

Because the tape is not definitive, Raffetto said he did not make it available to the public. But realizing there are many fans who would like a clear answer to what happened, he informed the commission to see if they wanted to further study it.

At the commission meeting a discussion followed Raffetto's statement.

Don Amos, chief operating officer of Magna Entertainment Corp. which owns Pimlico, said while it is often better "to let sleeping dogs lie", he felt in this case, "If there is any evidence that could help reach a clear answer to what happened to Barbaro it would be time and money well spent."

Commissioner Terry Saxon, who was completing his eight-year term on the board, recalled the commission had been asked to review tapes of Secretariat's Preakness victory a few years ago. Secretariat had set track records while winning the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, and debate had raged for years over whether the horse had also set one in the Preakness.

"We could have viewed that video tape until we were blue in the face and not had a definitive answer," Saxon said. "I think it will be impossible to duplicate what went on [involving Barbaro] and that we should just leave it alone and let history decide."

After listening to the arguments, commission chairman John McDaniel, who praised Pimlico officials and workers for the way Barbaro's injury was handled on Preakness day, said the commission will take a look at the tape to see if anything could be gained from it.

Last month, Solis told The Blood-Horse, "There's no way he [Brother Derek] could have struck Barbaro; I would have felt it. We were close behind him, but not that close. Getting that close to him and going that speed, if I had struck him, I would have gone down."

Asked if Brother Derek had made contact, Prado said during a May 30 visit to see Barbaro at the George D. Widener Hospital, "Maybe he did and maybe he didn't. It's one of those things we'll never know for sure."

But the Maryland Racing Commission said it will look at the tapes to determine if enhancement of the steward's film should be attempted.