09/05/2006 12:00AM

Barbaro could change cast again

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Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro continues to progress in his healing and could have another cast change on his broken right hind leg in the next fortnight, his surgeon said Tuesday.

"Barbaro is wearing the new cast satisfactorily," Dr. Dean Richardson, chief surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center equine hospital. "We continue to monitor him closely, and, depending on how he progresses, we may change it again within the next two weeks."

An update the university issued Tuesday noted that Barbaro's left hind leg - the one that was struck with weight-related laminitis in mid-July - also "continues to improve gradually." Barbaro's veterinary team changes the bandage on that foot daily. Richardson removed an estimated 80 percent of Barbaro's left hind hoof as part of treating the laminitis, which was severe.

"Barbaro's appetite is great, and we take him out each day to hand-graze him," Richardson said. "His vital signs remain normal, and he seems very happy." Barbaro remains in the hospital's intensive care unit, where he has been since breaking his right hind leg on May 20 during the running of the Preakness Stakes. The hospital has said it plans to issue another public update on Sept. 12, unless Barbaro's condition changes significantly in the meantime.