Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro has been euthanized after new setbacks in the attempt to save the colt's life after a broken hind leg ended his career in the Preakness Stakes race in May. Barbaro, who was 4 years old, received an outpouring of public support and interest after his injury.
"This wasn't just the animal-owning, pet-loving public," said Joan Hendricks, dean of the University of Pennsylvania's Veterinarian School, on the outpouring of emotion for Barbaro. "This was the general public."
It had been a rocky road for Barbaro since the bay colt became racing's sweetheart at Churchill Downs. He survived major surgery on his shattered right hind leg in May, only to develop laminitis, a painful and often fatal inflammation, in his left hind foot in July — a direct result of standing on that foot while the right leg healed.
The laminitis required surgeons to cut away nearly 80 percent of his left hoof.
Both legs seemed to heal slowly through the fall, but a few weeks ago, Barbaro began experiencing more pain in his left hind foot, which caused him to put more weight on his right, which, in turn, developed an abscess.
Saturday, veterinarians at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center surgically implanted a device at the base of his right hind leg. They hoped to take weight off the abscess. But the procedure had risks of its own: In taking the weight off of Barbaro's foot and putting it on his leg bone, they were placing stress on the bone that just finished healing.