08/09/2006 12:00AM

Barbaro making progress


Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro's surgeon saw encouraging signs Tuesday that the colt's hind legs are healing, according to an update issued Wednesday by the veterinary hospital where Barbaro is being treated for fractures in his right hind leg and laminitis in his left hind.

Dr. Dean Richardson, chief of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center equine hospital, changed the cast on Barbaro's right hind leg late Tuesday afternoon with the colt under general anesthesia.

"The leg looked good under the cast, especially considering the length of time that he has been in a cast," Richardson said.

Barbaro underwent surgery on his right hind leg on May 21, one day after sustaining severe fractures in the Preakness Stakes. Richardson said last week that the leg is stable enough that he normally could have removed it from the cast and put it in a support bandage. But in mid-July the colt developed laminitis, a hoof disease that has required removal of 80 percent of the hoof wall on his left hind. That problem prompted Richardson to keep Barbaro's right hind leg in a cast to provide extra support.

"The radiographs also were encouraging," Richardson said of the right hind leg. "There is no sign of active infection. This is further supported by his markedly improving blood values over the last two weeks."

Richardson said Barbaro will continue to wear the right hind cast until the fractures and joint fusions have healed enough to allow the colt to bear full weight on his right leg. Barbaro also is wearing a bandage and protective boot on his laminitic left foot. That is being changed daily.

"It is dry and healthy-looking with excellent early regrowth at the coronary band," Richardson said of the left hoof.