05/23/2006 12:00AM

Barbaro 'better today than yesterday'


Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby winner, was reported on Tuesday morning as "doing very well, better today than yesterday, and he was pretty well yesterday" by Dr. Dean Richardson, who performed surgery on the stricken colt on Sunday.

In a news conference at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center that also included Barbaro's owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, Richardson again cautioned that the recovery process with Barbaro will take months. But he said he was encouraged by the progress Barbaro was making so far.

"He will stay here until he is good and ready, at least for a few months," Richardson said. "He's not out of the woods until he's healed. How long will that take? Months."

Richardson said on Sunday, following the surgery, that Barbaro had 23 screws put in his right hind leg. But he amended that on Tuesday, saying one of his residents counted 27 screws.

"I was tired. I kind of lost track," Richardson said.

Barbaro suffered catastrophic injuries to his right hind leg a furlong into the Preakness Stakes. He had fractures to the cannon bone above the ankle, to the long pastern bone bone below the ankle, to a sesamoid in his ankle, and his ankle -- or fetlock -- was dislocated. He was taken to New Bolton on Saturday night after the Preakness, and surgery was performed Sunday.

Roy Jackson said he wanted to thank Edgar Prado, Barbaro's jockey, "for the job he did pulling the horse up." Jackson said many people -- ranging from vets to outriders at Pimlico, to the state and local police -- helped in getting Barbaro off the track and to New Bolton as quickly as possible.