Today, April 29th would have been Barbaro’s 9th Birthday. Most people have heard about Barbaro. He won the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6, 2006. Then tragedy struck him 2 weeks later. As many watched in person or on TV, Barbaro suffered a breakdown, just after the start of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Barbaro was vanned to the New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania where he received state of the art treatment. We all hoped that he could one day become a stallion and his babies would let us see a little bit of him again.
Immediately, there was a flood of public interest in Barbaro’s condition, and the Preakness tragedy was a major national story for news agencies that normally only give horse racing the bare bones news coverage. People from all over the world sent cards, letters and flowers to Barbaro. When Dr. Dean Richardson, Barbaro’s surgeon conducted a press conference after the first surgery, nearly 100 members of the media were there.
In July, he developed laminitis in his left rear leg. He underwent five further operations, and his prognosis varied during an exceptionally long stay in the Equine Intensive Care Unit at the New Bolton Center. While his right hind leg eventually healed, a final risky procedure on it proved futile because the colt soon developed further laminitis in both front legs. His veterinarians and owners concluded that he could not be saved, and Barbaro was euthanized on January 29, 2007.
So many people felt they had a stake in Barbaro’s recovery. The 2006 Kentucky Derby winner’s fight for survival was also a source of inspiration for many.
Barbaro was a third-generation descendant of Mr. Prospector, and as such Barbaro was related to many Triple Crown hopefuls of his time including Big Browm, Afleet Alex, Smarty Jones, Funny Cide, and Fusaichi Pegasus.
Michael Matz, Barbaro’s trainer will saddle Union Rags in the 2012 Kentucky Derby. Many people have asked him to compare Union Rags and Barbaro. He finally said, “I think this colt (Union Rags) is a bit more laidback than Barbaro. Barbaro was very professional in what he did once you got the saddle on him. When you got the rider on him, he couldn’t be any better. This horse (Union Rags) is bigger and more mature than Barbaro was as a three-year-old at this point.”
We wish Union Rags and Michael Matz good luck in the Derby.