The 2011 Preakness Stakes will be held Saturday, May 21 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The Preakness is the second leg in American thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown series and almost always attracts the Kentucky Derby winner, some of the other horses that ran in the Derby, and often a few horses that did not start in the Derby.
Let’s hope the 136th Preakness brings no Barbaro-like injuries and outcome.
Barbaro (April 29, 2003 – January 29, 2007) was an American thoroughbred who won the 2006 Kentucky Derby, but shattered his leg two weeks later in the 2006 Preakness Stakes, which led to his death.
Barbaro’s Preakness Stakes began with a false start when he broke from the starting gate prematurely. Barbaro was deemed fit upon being reloaded into the gate. As the restarted race began, Barbaro broke cleanly, but suffered a catastrophic injury as the horses passed the grandstand shortly after the start.
Barbaro broke his right hind leg in more than 20 places — a broken cannon bone above the pastern, a broken sesamoid bone behind the fetlock and a broken long pastern bone below the fetlock. The fetlock joint was dislocated, and his foot was left dangling loosely.
The injury ended his racing career. (Blogger’s note: I hate it when horses and greyhounds have racing careers.)
Barbaro’s injuries were life-threatening, partially because a thoroughbred’s breeding optimizes its anatomy for speed rather than durability. Unlike other mammals, such as dogs, a horse cannot survive on three legs. A broken leg in a horse can lead to complications as the other legs attempt to bear the weight of the horse’s body.
The day after the Preakness, he underwent surgery. In July he developed laminitis in his left rear leg undergoing five more operations. While his right hind leg eventually healed, a final risky procedure proved futile because he developed further laminitis in both front legs. His veterinarians and owners decided he couldn’t be saved. Barbaro was euthanized January 29, 2007.
Barbaro became the object of public affection after his trials and tribulations. He showed the world that horse racing was not without great risks.
I have to wonder why his owners went to so much trouble to keep him alive?
How much pain should Barbaro endure before he is put out of his misery? Full recovery was never an option.
Were there hopes that Barbaro could stud? Horse racing is all about the stud fees.
Barbaro’s plight led some to rethink the practices of tradition-bound thoroughbred horse racing and breeding as modern thoroughbreds are more delicate than their forebears. Barbaro’s injury has become a talking point for people who have widely divergent perspectives on horseracing, including breeders and innovators who are seeking ways to make racetracks safer for horses.
That was 5 years ago. Has there been any improvements or sanctions within thoroughbred breeding or horse racing surfaces?
Kentucky Derby 2011 came and went but not without injuries. Fortunately, there were no devastating Eight Belles type injuries where a horse crosses the finish line, breaks both her ankles, and has to be euthanized.
Nevertheless there were injuries: Archarcharch suffered a lateral condylar fracture on his left front leg. If you watched the race, he was taken off the track on the equine ambulance. According to the jockey, the horse appeared to take a bad step just out of the gate, also took a bad step at the 16th pole.
Comma to the Top finished last and chipped his left front ankle. The horse will be on sideline for at least 60 days.