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No one likes to see the type of injury that Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro suffered at the beginning of the May 20 Preakness Stakes. But the coverage of the injury and the efforts to save the colt’s life have been a learning experience for the public as well as members of the mainstream media.
Broadcasters and print reporters scrambled to cover the story of the colt’s injury, particularly because the dramatic pictures of the horse dragging his badly injured leg, seemingly trying gamely to continue the race, struck a chord with the viewing public.
One thing noticeable right away during the initial press conferences involving Dean W. Richardson, the veterinary surgeon who led a surgical team in a 6-hour effort to save the horse’s leg and life, was that he was trying to make it clear that — despite the apparent success of the initial surgery — Barbaro was a long way from being out of the woods.
Richardson, speaking from the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center in Kennet Square, Pa., told the assembled media that it was only about even money that Barbaro would survive and at least be able to continue as a stud.
Despite Richardson’s efforts, much of the media seemed caught off guard a short time later when it was announced that Barbaro had taken a turn for the worse. Once again, the scramble was on.