01/06/2007 1:00AM

Barabaro gets cast to stabilize hoof


LEXINGTON, Ky. – A cast has been put on Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro’s left hind leg to help stabilize his hoof, which is regrowing after developing a severe case of laminitis in July.

Roy Jackson, who bred and owns Barbaro with his wife Gretchen, said Saturday that equine podiatrist Dr. Scott Morrison had visited Barbaro for the second time on Jan. 3 and applied the cast. Morrison, a veterinarian at the Rood and Riddle equine hospital in Lexington, first visited Barbaro at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in late December to examine the laminitic hoof and make recommendations on how to manage it.

"It's just a routine thing to stabilize that foot a little more," Jackson said. "He's doing fine with it. I think any case with laminitis like this, it's a bit of a fragile situation. The hoof grows so slowly, and I think this is a common thing they do with those cases, to put a cast on it for a while. It makes it stand more level and makes it more stable."

Barbaro has been in the New Bolton Center's intensive care unit since breaking his right hind leg on May 20 during the Preakness Stakes. He underwent surgery to stabilize that injury on May 21 but developed laminitis, a common complication, in his left hind leg in mid-July. Barbaro's surgeon, Dr. Dean Richardson, removed about 80 percent of the hoof, which is now regrowing.

The hoof regrowth will take months, Richardson has said.

"The best comparison I know is that it's like losing your fingernail," Jackson said. "It's a slow process to grow it back."

Jackson said that the procedure to put the cast on Barbaro's left hind leg did not require anesthesia and was performed in the colt's stall.

Jackson declined to comment on whether any decision had been made regarding Barbaro's eventual discharge from the New Bolton Center or a possible destination for the colt after he leaves the hospital. In December, Richardson told reporters that he could envision the horse leaving "in the not-so-distant future," fueling speculation that Barbaro's departure could be imminent.