12/12/2006 1:00AM

Barbaro to get new shoe

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Barbaro, the injured Kentucky Derby winner, continues to gain strength in his right hind leg about five weeks after veterinarians at the University of Pennsylvania removed his cast.

Barbaro has been at the university's equine hospital since May 20, when he shattered his lower right hind leg in the Preakness. The center's chief surgeon, Dr. Dean Richardson, removed the cast from Barbaro's leg on Nov. 6.

"Barbaro will need a special shoe on his right hind foot that will provide extra support for at least the next several months," Richardson said in a statement Tuesday. Richardson plans to change Barbaro's right hind shoe within the next couple of days, the statement said.

Barbaro's right hind leg underwent surgery on May 21. In July, he developed severe laminitis - a potentially fatal condition - in his left hind leg as a complication from bearing excessive weight on it.

The left hind leg is also progressing well. In July, Richardson removed an estimated 80 percent of its hoof, which is regrowing slowly but steadily.

"Most importantly," Richardson said, "Barbaro's overall condition is continuing to improve, and he weighs more now than at any time during his hospitalization."