Updated on 09/18/2011 12:03AM

Barbaro injured; Bernardini wins Preakness

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Bernardini and jockey Javier Castellano cross the wire 5 1/4 lengths in front of Sweetnorthernsaint in the 131st Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on Saturday. Longshot Hemingway's Key (center) finished another six lengths back in third.

BALTIMORE - What many had expected to be a celebration quickly turned dark on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course, when Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby winner, was pulled up a furlong into the 131st with a fracture to his right hind ankle in a race won Bernardini.

Moments earlier, Barbaro had broken through his stall. He was corralled after going about 60 yards down the track, then was brought back and reloaded.

When the gates opened, Barbaro bobbled ever so slightly, then was in the second flight of horses, behind Like Now and Sweetnorthernsaint, as the field came through the stretch the first time.

Suddenly, jockey Edgar Prado grabbed the reins and took a heavy hold of Barbaro, who was obviously favoring his right hind leg. Barbaro was pulled up shortly after the finish line, and was brought toward the outside part of the track by Prado as the other eight runners continued on their way.

Dr. Larry Bramlage, the on-call veterinarian for the American Association of Equine Practitioners, said on NBC's telecast that Barbaro appeared to have suffered "a significant injury."

"He has fractures above and below the ankle," Bramlage said.

Barbaro had a splint placed on the injured leg on the racetrack, then was taken from the track in a horse ambulance to the stakes barn, where he had been housed since arriving on Friday from the Fair Hill training center in Maryland.

Bramlage said Barbaro would be taken to the New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where he "would require major surgery." Barbaro arrived at New Bolton Center at 9 p.m. on Saturday, 1 hour and 40 minutes after leaving Pimlico. Mike Gathagan, the vice-president of media relations for Pimlico, said late Saturday that Barbaro would undergo surgery on Sunday afternoon.

"It could be life-threatening," Bramlage said later, in a press conference, because there could be "significant injury to the blood supply.

"There's two relatively small arteries in that part of the leg.

"You can't put him in bed," Bramlage told Bob Neumeier on NBC's telecast. "An injury to you or I, we would be in bed for six weeks. It's much more difficult with a horse.

"Keep your fingers crossed and say a prayer."

Bramlage, in a press conference 40 minutes after the race, said: "His career is over. He broke a bone above the ankle first, and there's so much energy and adrenaline that he keeps on running.

"This will require major stabilizing surgery. It's a major hurdle here."

Bramlage said the fracture must first be stabilized before surgery can be performed. He said it was unreasonable to assume that Barbaro suffered the injury when he broke through the gate before the race.

"He would not have been able to go back and around the gate" if he had the injury beforehand, Bramlage said.

Barbaro was second choice at 6-1 in the Derby, but his overwhelming victory at Churchill Downs two weeks ago - and his perfect 6-for-6 record - made him the heavy 1-2 favorite in the Preakness. With different horses winning the Derby and the Preakness, the longest Triple Crown drought in history will be extended for at least another year. The last to sweep the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes was Affirmed in 1978.

The injury to Barbaro overshadowed a marvelous performance by Bernardini, who was making only the fourth start of his career, and had the least experience among the Preakness runners.

Bernardini - whose name was misspelled "Bernadini" on his saddle towel - moved with a powerful rush on the far turn to move from fourth to first. He roared past Sweetnorthernsaint at the top of the stretch and drew off before a record crowd of 118,402 to win by 5 1/4 lengths in 1:54.65 for 1 3/16 miles on a fast main track.

Sweetnorthernsaint, at 8-1 the third choice, finished six lengths in front of third-place Hemingway's Key. Brother Derek, who had a wide trip in the Derby, had another rough trip in the Preakness and wound up fourth, 15 1/4 lengths behind Bernardini.

Bernardini ($27.80) was coming off a victory in last month's Withers Stakes at Aqueduct, which was his second straight victory, both coming with Lasix. His trainer, Tom Albertrani, has been extremely bullish on the colt, and decided to take a shot in the Preakness. He was the fourth choice, at 12-1.

Albertrani was a longtime assistant to Bill Mott and was associated with Cigar during his 16-race winning streak. Since then, he has primarily worked for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Bernardini, a colt by A.P. Indy out of Cara Rafaela, by Quiet American, was bred and is owned by the Darley Stable of Sheikh Mohammed.

Javier Castellano rode Bernardini. It was the first victory in a Triple Crown race for Castellano. Before this, Castellano was best known as the rider of Ghostzapper, the 2004 Horse of the Year.

"As soon as I passed the wire, I had mixed emotions," Castellano said. "I was really excited for me, winning the Preakness, winning my first Triple Crown race, but at the same time I saw the other horse, and it was really sad.