Barbaro died 10 years ago today. What’s changed?

Barbaro breaks down in the Preakness at Plimico.
Source: Bryant Photos.

Barbaro died 10 years ago today.

Barbaro’s public breakdown, numerous treatments and eventual death should have galvanized horse racing to deal with its equine athletes in a more ethical and compassionate manner.

What’s changed? Nothing. As a matter of fact, racehorse breakdowns and deaths are arguably worse.

Cheating and drugging, fueled by greed and ego, are as rampant as ever.

Racehorses are breaking down and dying at every level, in training and on the racecourse. A particular gut wrenching trend is the destruction of young horses who are being killed at an all time high at the tender age of two.

Don’t take our word for it.

You can follow the trail of injury and death at the Horse Racing Wrongs website compiled by Patrick Battuello.

New York alone killed 119 rachorses in 2016. And those are the recorded ones. Always bear in mind that the reporting of racehorse deaths is not demanded by any racing authority. It is purely voluntary.

Barbaro Timeline

Oct. 4, 2005 – He wins his first race at Delaware Park. Barbaro went on to win four additional racing contests prior to being entered into the Kentucky Derby.

May 6, 2006 – Barbaro wins the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs by 61/2 lengths, becoming a favorite to win the Triple Crown.

May 20, 2006 – A freak accident at the Preakness Stakes, held at Pimlico Raceway near Baltimore, results in the severe fracturing of Barbaro’s right-hind leg into 23 pieces, bringing on a life-threatening condition.

May 21, 2006 – Barbaro undergoes surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center in East Marlborough. During the operation Dr. Dean Richardson, the chief surgeon, implants metal plates with 23 screws into the horse’s badly fractured leg with the aim of stabilizing it. Following surgery, Barbaro was lowered into a specialized, heated water tank with a sling. The tank, complete with a rubber raft, allowed the animal to come out of sedation without reinjuring the leg. Following surgery, Barbaro is given a 50-50 chance of survival.

July 13, 2006 – Barbaro develops a case of severe laminitis in his left-hind hoof, resulting from the horse’s having shifted his weight to that leg during recovery from surgery. The horse’s laminitic leg is placed into a special boot and Barbaro is given painkillers. During a procedure, called a hoof-wall resection, 80 percent of Barbaro’s left-rear hoof is removed.

Aug. 2, 2006 – Richardson announces that the fractured leg has fused to the point where the cast on the right-rear leg would have been replaced, had the left-rear leg not become injured. He says signs are encouraging.

Aug. 15, 2006 – Barbaro is reported to have gone outside to graze for the first time since the accident.

Aug. 17, 2006 – Richardson announces Barbaro is supporting his own weight and use of the support sling has been discontinued.

Aug. 18, 2006 – Radiographs show that Barbaro’s fractured leg has completely fused.

Sept. 26, 2006 – It is announced that Barbaro’s cast would not be replaced as long as he was comfortable in it and the left-rear hoof had regrown by 18 millimeters and the support shoe had been replaced with a bandage. Richardson says, at this point, the hoof still needed to grow three times that length, which he estimated could take six months.

Oct. 10, 2006 – Richardson says Barbaro’s cast and protective shoe were changed and that the injured hoof is showing recovery from laminitis.

Nov. 6, 2006 – Six months after his Kentucky Derby victory, Barbaro’s cast is permanently removed and replaced with a splinted bandage. No new problems are reported with Barbaro’s injured hoof.

Dec. 12, 2006 – The splinted bandage on Barbaro’s right-hind leg is removed.

Jan. 3, 2007 – A cast is placed on Barbaro’s laminitic left-hind leg.

Jan. 10, 2007 – Richardson announces another section of Barbaro’s left-hind hoof has been removed.

Jan. 27, 2007 – Barbaro undergoes additional surgery to insert two additional steel pins into the healed bones of his right-hind leg that theoretically would allow the horse to bear more weight. The procedure involved the risk of refracturing Barbaro’s leg.

Jan. 29, 2007 – Barbaro is euthanized at the request of owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson of West Grove.

Dynaformer, sire of Barbaro, dies at 27

Dynaformer Close Up. Image by Three Chimneys.
Dynaformer Close Up. Image by Three Chimneys.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Dynaforma, who sired Barbaro, died April 23rd, the date Barbaro was foaled.

The Daily Racing Form reports:

Dynaformer — sire of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, multi-million-dollar earner Perfect Drift, and three-time steeplechase champion McDynamo — has died two weeks after an aortic valve rupture prompted Three Chimneys Farm to pension him. A 27-year-old son of Roberto, Dynaformer was euthanized at about noon Sunday, the Midway, Ky., farm announced.

Three Chimneys president Case Clay had said earlier this year that the farm would limit the popular stallion’s book to 40 mares this year, but he was abruptly pensioned April 14 when the heart problem became apparent.

Three Chimneys veterinarian Dr. Jim Morehead said: “Dynaformer told us when it was his time to go. Amazingly, he had been comfortable after his initial crisis on April 14 and had been able to go to his paddock daily, A normal horse would not have survived his initial cardiac episode. He did everything in his terms, including deciding when he’s had enough.”

Three Chimneys announced that the public is invited to pay respects to Dynaformer during the Annual Three Chimneys Kentucky Derby week open house on Thursday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. A memorial service will take place at 12:30 p.m. that day in the stallion cemetery.

Read full report >>

Image Source: Three Chimneys. Not filed with source report.

Synchronised and According to Pete killed in the Grand National

Synchronized riden by Tony McCoy, centre, wearing green silks with yellow bands, falls after jumping Becher's Brook. (Photo: AP/Scott Heppell)
Synchronized riden by Tony McCoy, centre, wearing green silks with yellow bands, falls after jumping Becher's Brook. (Photo: AP/Scott Heppell)

Last update 8:33 pm

The Daily Telegraph reports:

It is the second time in two years that two horses have died in the Grand National. The deaths will reignite the controversy surrounding the sport.

Millions of television viewers saw Gold Cup winner Synchronised and According to Pete fall at the sixth fence – Becher’s Brook.

It came after Jockey Tony McCoy had earlier been unseated by Synchronised, this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, in the moments leading up to the start of the race.

The incident packed 165th Grand National was one of the most dramatic in history. Only fifteen of the 40 runners who started the race managed to finish.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Synchronised did not want to race today. The start was delayed when he unseated jockey Tony McCoy. Or was it the hijinks of an excited racehorse? Perhaps. Race organizers said Synchronised was “thoroughly checked” by a veterinarian before allowing him to line up in the 40-horse field.

When I hear reports like these, I always think of Barbaro breaking through the gates at Pimlico, and veterinarians allowed him to run anyway. After all, a Triple Crown was on the line (see video). The same with the horses who were killed in the re-running of the Dubai Gold Cup. They were “thoroughly checked” and allowed to race again.

Then there is the beautiful and tragic George Washington who had to be literally dragged out to race in the Breeders’ Cup in the slop at Monmouth. He did not want to race that day either. Gorgeous George died minutes later when he was put down; his leg shattered (see images).


:: Tragedy and insensitivity overshadow Grand National as two horses die >>

Thoroughbred aftercare: a new legacy for Barbaro

Ray Paulick writes the following in a post for the Paulick Report:

On Friday, I suggested that time is running out for the industry to act on the long-neglected issue of Thoroughbred aftercare. On almost a weekly basis, our industry is being smeared, deservedly or not, by heartless cruelty to horses by what I can only say are evil people.

The new world of instant communications and social networking spreads these stories like a fast-moving virus, and whether or not the Thoroughbred industry is at fault, all of us are cast in a shadow. Thoroughbred racing is, like it or not, a poster child for the equine world. The lack of response to animal welfare crises from the Thoroughbred industry, borne out of resistance to collaboration or centralization, only makes these matters worse. Our image is getting killed, because people everywhere love horses, and the message we are sending them is, “We don’t really care.”

Paulick is the one who broke the story that went viral about Kelsey Lefever, the Pennsylvania woman who reportedly sent Thoroughbred racehorses to slaughter instead of rehoming them as she promised their owners she would do.

He adds:

Barbaro Profile

Can Thoroughbred industry leaders stop the abuse of horses or provide for every unwanted equine for the rest of its life? Of course not. But it would be reassuring for the industry to have a program that says, “We are doing everything we can.”

Now that would be a great legacy for Barbaro.

Ray Paulick is that rare racing man who speaks out against racehorse abuse and slaughter, and we are grateful for his voice.

A big reason the public feel negatively about the Thoroughbred industry is highlighted by the very story that Paulick broke.

Where were the spokespersons for the major horse racing organizations, of which there are so many who make money off the backs of these horses, stating their outrage and denouncing what Lefever did? There were none to be heard that we came across.

The reason for this appears to us — and most likely to quite a few others — that it is because these organizations are well aware that Thoroughbreds are routinely sent to slaughter, backhanded or otherwise, and simply condone it.

In my opinion, central to it all is the way the horse racing industry generally thinks about the racehorse. To breeders, agents, owners, trainers and more than a few jockeys, the horses are seen as a commodity, an ego booster, but more than anything else, a money spinner.

In countries where the treatment of Thoroughbreds is at least taken into some sort of consideration, horse racing is doing more than just managing to stay afloat in challenging economic times, it is actually growing.

Read full post at the Paulick Report >>