01/25/2007 1:00AM

Barbaro gets new cast on left leg


Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro was recovering well on Thursday after having his left hind leg cast replaced on Wednesday under general anesthesia, the New Bolton Center's equine hospital reported.

Chief surgeon Dr. Dean Richardson said he also drained an abscess the colt had developed near the heel of his right hind leg. Barbaro also has received a custom-made plastic and steel leg brace to provide additional support to his right leg, which has recovered well from serious fractures incurred in the May 20 Preakness. The orthotic brace also will allow Barbaro's veterinary team to regularly treat the abscess.

Barbaro also had new shoes placed on his front feet "for additional support," a New Bolton release said.

The release called the Wednesday cast replacement "a planned procedure."

The left hind foot developed severe laminitis, a painful and potentially fatal disease, in July, leading Richardson to remove about 80 percent of the hoof. About two weeks ago, Barbaro suffered a serious setback when the regrowing left hoof became painful and part of the new hoof wall separated from the foot, prompting Richardson to trim the hoof two more times. Laminitis is a common complication when horses shift too much weight from an injured leg onto a healthy one.

"We were very pleased with the progress of his left hind foot since the cast was applied," Richardson said.

Richardson said Barbaro's attitude and appetite were "excellent" on Thursday. He said that he will probably replace the cast two or three times at approximately two-week intervals.