A look back at the life of 2006 Kentucky Derby champion Barbaro, euthanized in 2007 after a months-long fight to recover from a broken leg.
Barbaro’s brilliant racing career and eight-month fight for survival won’t soon be forgotten.
There’s already great interest in just how good Barbaro’s kid brother can be — an untested, unnamed yearling in Lexington, Ky. Barbaro funds, aimed at equine research and preventing deadly laminitis, have been started, and there’s talk of a museum.
“He’s been so loved by the public, we think it’s right to keep his memory alive,” co-owner Gretchen Jackson said.
Less than a week after their beloved Kentucky Derby winner was euthanized, Gretchen and Roy Jackson are taking steps to leave a lasting legacy for Barbaro. They’re getting plenty of support, too.
The Jacksons live in the middle of horse country outside Philadelphia and are exploring the possibility of a museum to honor Barbaro and other local horses, including Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex and steeplechase champion McDynamo.
“I think that’s a great possibility — the timing is right because we’re just getting started in Pennsylvania,” said Pat Chapman, who owned Smarty Jones and is a longtime friend of the Jacksons. “I’m totally with them.”
The Kentucky Derby Museum, just a few furlongs from Barbaro’s greatest triumph at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington have said they would be “honored” to be the final resting place of Barbaro.
“We’re grateful for the offers,” Gretchen Jackson said. “We’re still pondering.”
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association unveiled the Barbaro Fund earlier this week, the latest effort to pull the racing industry together and raise money for equine research. The fund has a specific target: Laminitis, the disease that struck three of Barbaro’s feet and ultimately caused his death.
Gulfstream Park, where Barbaro won the Florida Derby and became a Kentucky Derby favorite, started a college scholarship for veterinary students in honor of Barbaro.
“His memory will live forever,” NTRA CEO Alex Waldrop said.
Barbaro’s ordeal also put veterinary medicine and technology on display. Larry Bramlage, a vet at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., said he believes Barbaro’s legacy will be helping owners understand there are alternatives when a horse is severely injured.
There’s Barbaro’s lineage, too.
The Jacksons own Barbaro’s full brother, there’s a brother on the way and another sibling in the planning stage. To be considered full brothers, horses must have the same mother and father. In this case, La Ville Rouge (owned by the Jacksons) is the mother; Dynaformer is the father. A half brother — 3-year-old Man in Havana — is being trained by Michael Matz, who handled Barbaro.
At Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington, the 10½-month old brother has showed the same spunk Barbaro did as a youth. It’s way too early to tell what might happen when — or if — he makes it to the races in 2008.
“You can’t lift the hood and see what they have underneath at this age,” Mill Ridge’s director of sales Bayne Welker said. “He has the physical attributes.”
Could he be another Barbaro?
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
When the colt is named, it likely will be for one of six foxhounds in a painting hanging on the wall of the Jackson’s house in West Grove, Pa. One hound is named Barbaro.
“It worked before,” Roy Jackson said.
Barbaro’s breakdown also has racetracks looking at installing Polytrack and other artificial surfaces to try and reduce the risk of injury. Turfway Park and Keeneland, for example, have Polytrack — composed of sand, synthetic fibers and recycled rubber. Both tracks reported significant declines in breakdowns.
Synthetic surfaces will be mandatory at major race tracks in California by the end of the year. Hollywood Park was the first to install the new surface, and Del Mar officials broke ground Wednesday on an $8 million Polytrack.
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