KENNETT SQUARE - Kentucky Derby champion Barbaro, who suffered a life-threatening ankle fracture during this month's Preakness Stakes, has a better-than-even chance of survival, his surgeon said yesterday.
Dr Dean Richardson, head of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania's Centre for Large Animals, previously rated the colt's chances of survival at no better than 50-50.
"He has had an incredibly good week, "Richardson told a news conference. "He has actually done far better than I would have ever hoped - so far.
"Every day that goes by, I think his chances of survival are better."
Richardson said the 3-year-old's vital signs and his blood work were normal. He did not appear to be depressed after having to spend all his time in his stall after suffering an injury that would have led to immediate euthanasia for most horses.
Barbaro was the Preakness favourite and could have become the first horse since 1978 to win the coveted Triple Crown after his emphatic 6 1/2-length victory in the Kentucky Derby.
He pulled up in the first quarter-mile on May 20, his right hind leg splaying out at an unnatural angle.
Richardson said it might still be several months before the horse's future is assured, although the possibility of infection from the surgery is receding.
Other complications, however, could arise.
Jockey Edgar Prado, who pulled Barbaro up when he sensed the injury, said he had been "heartbroken" on the day of the Preakness but has since resumed his racing commitments.