Barbaro's cast removed

Monday, November 6th 2006, 6:11 pm
By: News On 6

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (AP) Barbaro is walking freely, without a cast.

Nearly six months after a horrifying accident at the Preakness, Barbaro had the cast removed from his lower right hind leg on Monday. The Kentucky Derby winner was in the cast since having surgery on May 21, a day after the second race of the Triple Crown series.

``He had a perfect pool recovery and immediately stood. He walked easily back to his stall,'' said Dean Richardson, chief surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center. ``He used all of his legs quite well.''

Barbaro's left hind hoof, which was stricken with a severe case of laminitis, hasn't shown signs of any new problems.

``The hoof needs several more months of growth before we will know how much foot structure and function will be recovered,'' Richardson said.

During Monday's procedure, Barbaro's foot was trimmed and a new shoe was glued on it. A padded bandage with plastic and fiberglass splints was placed on his lower limb for support.

Barbaro suffered life-threatening injuries when he broke three bones above and below his right rear ankle at the start of the Preakness. The 3 year-old colt sustained a broken cannon bone above the ankle, a broken sesamoid bone behind the ankle and a broken long pastern bone below the ankle. The fetlock joint, the ankle, was dislocated.

Richardson said after performing surgery the pastern bone was shattered in ``20-plus pieces.''

Barbaro's right hind bones healed so well after surgery his cast could have been off months ago, if not for the laminitis in his other hind leg. The painful hoof disease prevented the cast from being removed sooner because the colt could not protect himself by bearing more weight on the left hind.

Barbaro's devastating injuries captured the attention of racing fans across the nation this summer. The outpouring of sympathy was overwhelming and daily updates on Barbaro's condition were provided by the medical staff at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals.