Shattered Dreams

With a severe leg injury, a promising racing career came to an end just 20 seconds into the 131st running of the Preakness

BEFORE AND AFTER VIEWS. Barbaro’s radiographs show that a locking compression plate and 27 screws were inserted to overcome the extensive leg damage. He was placed in a water recovery pool following surgery.

With 118,420 spectators looking on at Baltimore’s Pimlico racetrack, Barbaro broke quickly from the Preakness starting gate in an effort to win the second leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing. But in less than 200 yards, the Kentucky Derby winner’s right hind leg was flailing widely in mid air — fractured in three places.

Owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson and trained by former U.S. Olympic rider Michael Matz, the colt’s racing days were over less than 20 seconds into the race as jockey Edgar Prado tried to pull him up during the May 20 event.

The colt suffered a condylar fracture of his cannon bone (metatarus), shattered the first phalanx (long pastern bone) into more than 20 pieces, fractured a sesamoid bone and also had a dislocated fetlock joint. Yet one thing going for the horse was the fact that the skin on the leg was not broken.

While many horses with massive injures such as this are euthanized, Barbaro was transported back to his stall and later moved to the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa.

Going into surgery, orthopedic surgeon Dean W. Richardson said it was a coin toss as to whether the horse would…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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