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.

When a “scratched” racehorse is actually dead

Laurel Leaves with the text THE RACING DEAD in the center. Artwork by Vivian Grant Farrell for Tuesday's Horse.

Cross-posted from Horse Racing Wrongs

It’s hard to say how many fatal paddock fractures and “sudden cardiac events” occur just prior to scheduled races, for these deaths are typically buried as mere “vet scratches” on the official race charts.

Sometimes, though, insight comes from other sources, sources like California’s publicly-posted stewards minutes. In the last week of July, there were two such incidents:

July 29, 7-year-old Merry Moon, “deceased” prior to the 3rd at Los Alamitos

July 30, 3-year-old Tiz a Lucky One, “euthanized” prior to the 8th at Santa Rosa

Both, scratches on Equibase because, you know, dead horses can’t run.


• The Inevitability of Dead Racehorse
The Inevitability Of Dead Racehorses

• The Big Lie
The Big Lie

Six Preciado Horses Disqualified From Parx Victories After Testing Positive For Clenbuterol

The Ray Paulick Report reports:

Six horses trained by Ramon Preciado have been disqualified from victories at Parx Racing in March and April after each of them tested positive for the bronchodilator clenbuterol.

Preciado, the Bensalem, Pa., racetrack’s leading trainer in 2014 and 2015, already was facing 270 days in suspensions for positive tests for clenbuterol in October and November 2015.

On April 15, he was handed a three-year ejection from the grounds of Parx April 15 as an “undesirable person” whose “pattern of conduct is not in the best interest of racing” and the track refused to take entries from his stable.

Preciado appealed the ejection and received a stay of the order three days later. On April 26, Preciado sued both Walter Remmert, executive director of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, and Sam Elliott, the Parx Racing racing secretary, saying his due process rights were violated.

In his complaint Preciado said he “will prove at the hearings that a disgruntled employee has sabotaged his horses by giving the drug without his knowledge.”

Six separate stewards rulings were issued between May 17-22 for the latest clenbuterol positives, disqualifying the horses from the victories and their purse money.

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Niceonefrankie becomes the fifth horse to die at Cheltenham Festival

Sew On Target, ridden by Brendan Powell, Niceonefrankie, ridden by Charlie Deutsch, and Kings Palace, ridden by Tom Scudamore, race during the 4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate during the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse in England Thursday. Niceonefrankie died from injuries sustained in the race. Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters

In my eight years as a professional racing photographer in the UK in the 80’s and 90’s over both the flat and the jumps, I never witnessed one fatality at Cheltenham. Now it is a regular occurrence and the number of deaths is getting higher. What in the hell is going on? Is it the courses, bad trainers or a weakened breed? —Editor.


The death of Niceonefrankie at the Cheltenham Festival brought the tally of fatalities to five in the opening three days of the meeting.

Venetia WIlliams’ 10-year-old, winner of the December Gold Cup at the track two years ago, fell late on in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate.

His unfortunate passing added to those of The Govaness, Rezorbi and Pont Alexandre, who suffered fatal injuries on the opening day of the meeting, while it was confirmed on Thursday morning that No More Heroes had been put down after damaging a tendon in the RSA Chase on Wednesday.

Sophia Dale, communications manager for Jockey Club Racecourses South West, said: “Niceonefrankie sustained an injury in the fifth race of the day and was sadly put down due to the nature of the injuries he sustained and our thoughts are with his connections.

“The other horse in the race, Quincy Des Pictons, was walked on to a horse ambulance and taken away for assessment and will be transferred to a veterinary hospital in the not too distant future.”

Speaking earlier in the day, RSPCA equine consultant David Muir admitted the deaths are “deeply concerning” but was keen to assess each case individually, rather than make a knee-jerk reaction to the incidents.

He said: “Obviously the deaths are deeply concerning to us, but we need to consider each fatality individually before making an informed comment.

“I look at the fatalities once the meeting is over and the first thing I do is satisfy myself that the course was prepared in the right manner and from there we look at the issues relating to each death.

“I look at any issues of culpability and then see what we can learn for the future and once we have finished, hopefully the British Horseracing Authority take our comments on board.

“I’ve been concerned by the way hurdles react in races and have recently been looking at the issue of penultimate and ultimate hurdles where the fields really start to race and the possibility of an increased risk.”

Muir admits the sheer volume of runners at the Festival must be taken into consideration as the number of contenders far outstrips regular day-to-day action.

“You can’t really compare Haydock or Hexham, with five or six runners, to Cheltenham, where there are 20 or 22 runners in many of the races.

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Photo Credit / Featured Image: Sew On Target, ridden by Brendan Powell, Niceonefrankie, ridden by Charlie Deutsch, and Kings Palace, ridden by Tom Scudamore, race during the 4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate during the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse in England Thursday. Niceonefrankie died from injuries sustained in the race. Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters.