Doctor: Barbaro 'Walking Very Well'

Mandy Watson helps her 5-year-old daughter Kate Carango tape a drawing outside University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center for Large Animals in Kennett Square, Pa., on Tuesday, May 23, 2006. AP Photo/Matt Rourke

There was more good news Tuesday on Barbaro's recovery from a catastrophic injury to his right hind leg.

"He's actually better today than he was even yesterday, and he was pretty good yesterday," Dr. Dean Richardson said of the Kentucky Derby winner. "He's walking very well on the limb, absolutely normal vital signs. He's doing very well."

Barbaro was on his feet in his stall, even scratching his left ear with his left hind leg just two days after Richardson and a team of assistants spent more than five hours pinning together the leg bones he shattered in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.

The surgery was performed at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center.

"We've run the gamut of emotions from the euphoria of the Kentucky Derby to the devastation of the Preakness," owner Roy Jackson said. "The sad part is that in Barbaro's case, the American public won't get a chance to see him continue his racing career. Even though he ran so well in the Kentucky Derby, we probably didn't see his greatest race. But that's water over the dam. We're just glad we jumped a hurdle here so far."

Richardson added that the Jacksons' main concern was for the health of Barbaro, not for the millions of dollars the colt could make as a stallion if he recovers completely.

"If this horse were a gelding, these owners would have done everything to save this horse's life," Richardson said. "I've known the Jacksons a long time. If this horse had no reproductive value, they would have saved his life."

Gretchen Jackson added: "My hope for him is that he lives a painless life. Whether that means he'll be a stallion with little Barbaros, that would be the extreme hope for him."

During the Preakness, when Barbaro broke three bones, he likely wasn't in much pain, an equine specialist told CBS News correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi. In fact, it's likely the jockey knew about the injury before Barbaro did.

"It actually doesn't hurt real bad because he had a lot of adrenaline going," Dr. Larry Branlage said.


Signs expressing prayers and well wishes left by caring fans lined fences to the entrance of the New Bolton Center. "We love you, Barbaro." "Believe in Miracles." "Beat the Odds." Some signs were adorned with pictures of the horse. Others were signed by families who filed out of their cars to add a token of support at the makeshift tribute.

"I really don't have an answer why he's captured the popularity of the American people. I just think it's a wonderful thing, it's a positive thing for racing," Roy Jackson said.

Richardson and the Jacksons were flanked at their news conference by dozens of roses and baskets of apples that were delivered for the stricken horse. Apples, carrots, peppermints and even more flowers filled the lobby. There were so many apples that they had to be shared with other horses in the ICU.

The strapping 3-year-old colt has been a perfect patient from the start. With a fiberglass cast on his right hind leg and a staff of veterinarians keeping 24-hour watch, standing around is the best thing, the only thing, Barbaro can do.
  • James Klatell

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