Updated on 09/18/2011 1:04AM

Barbaro shows more progress

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Sabina Louise Pierce/Univ. of Pennsylvania
Barbaro, at New Bolton Center in his stall adorned with cards and gifts from well wishers, is attended to by Dr. Dean Richardson on Tuesday.

Less than 48 hours after extensive surgery to repair his shattered right hind leg, Barbaro on Tuesday morning was doing "very well, better today than yesterday, and he was pretty well yesterday," according to Dr. Dean Richardson, who performed surgery on the Kentucky Derby winner on Sunday afternoon.

Richardson, however, continued to stress that Barbaro's recovery is a long-term process that will take months. But he said he was encouraged by the progress Barbaro has made so far.

"He will stay here until he is good and ready, at least for a few months," Richardson said. "He's not out of the woods until he's healed. How long will that take? Months.

"Bad things can happen at any time," Richardson said. "Many, many things could still go wrong. [But] every day the risk diminishes. Every day that goes by makes me happy."

Richardson said Barbaro's vital signs - including his pulse, respiration, and temperature - were all good. He said Barbaro was "on fairly low levels of analgesics."

"The single most important consideration is his level of comfort on his right hind limb," Richardson said. "That's the most important thing when healing from a catastrophic fracture."

Richardson made his comments at a news conference at the George D. Widener Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., where Barbaro arrived less than three hours after being gravely injured in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. Richardson was joined by Barbaro's owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson.

"We've been through a gamut of emotions, from the Kentucky Derby euphoria to the devastation of the Preakness," said Roy Jackson, who took the opportunity to thank those involved in aiding Barbaro on Saturday, beginning with jockey Edgar Prado "for the job he did pulling the horse up." Jackson said many people - ranging from vets to outriders at Pimlico, to the state and local police - helped in getting Barbaro off the track and to New Bolton as quickly as possible.

Barbaro suffered catastrophic injuries to his right hind leg a furlong into the Preakness. He had fractures to the cannon bone above the ankle, to the long pastern bone below the ankle, and to a sesamoid at the rear of his ankle, and his ankle joint - or fetlock - was dislocated. Sunday's surgery was designed to fuse the joint. He is wearing a cast that begins just below the hock and envelops the hoof.

Richardson said Barbaro will have his cast changed next week "at the earliest." He said, "Every time we change his cast, we will take radiographs" to see how the fractures are healing.

"With this fracture, he cannot bear weight without a cast," Richardson said. "So far, he's been a very good patient. His mental attitude is great."

Richardson, the chief of surgery at New Bolton, on Sunday said that Barbaro had 23 screws put in his right hind leg. But he amended that on Tuesday, saying one of his residents counted 27 screws.

"I was tired," Richardson said. "I kind of lost track."

Richardson said Barbaro had his racing shoes pulled off upon arrival on Saturday, and he was fitted with a special shoe on his left rear to provide balance in his hind end to try to guard against laminitis, a circulatory disease that frequently strikes the leg opposite one that is injured.

"He was shod with a glue-on shoe with special padding to raise up so that the length is the same as with the cast on his right leg," Richardson said.

Richardson said there was nothing positive or negative about the injury being to a rear leg as opposed to a front leg, but said it could be "problematic if he enters the breeding business if he has to mount a mare."

The Jockey Club rules maintain that Thoroughbreds cannot be bred using artificial insemination.

Gretchen Jackson said the breeding business was secondary. She repeatedly emphasized that she wanted Barbaro to have a "pain-free life."

"We want him to be comfortable," Gretchen Jackson said. "That's everything."

Roy Jackson said Barbaro was insured "for his life, and there's some insurance if he can't stand as a stallion."

Richardson said there was "no evidence" Barbaro was injured when he nudged open the gate before the start of the race.

"I know there's a lot of conspiracy theorists, but he jogged back to the gate," Richardson said. "It was a single catastrophic misstep, an accident.

"This is a risky endeavor," he said. "It's massive animals going fast."

Fund started to help hospital

The University of Pennsylvania announced on Tuesday that a Barbaro Fund had been established to benefit its animal hospital. According to a spokeswoman at New Bolton, the seed money was provided by an anonymous donor. The donor is believed to be the Jacksons, who have supported the hospital for years; Gretchen Jackson is on the board of overseers. It was stressed during the press conference that the fund is not being used for Barbaro's care - the Jacksons are taking care of that - but as a fund-raising mechanism for the hospital in general. Information: .

Websites for Barbaro well-wishers

The websites have specially created forms for fans to send e-mail wishes to Barbaro and his connections. The form at ntra.com is available by clicking on the link for the new "Barbaro: News and Updates" section on the site's home page. All messages will be forwarded to the Jacksons and the rest of the Barbaro team, according to the NTRA.