01/13/2007 1:00AM

Barbaro's night a restful one


Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro rested comfortably on Thursday night, three days after a significant setback in his recovery from laminitis required his surgeon to trim damaged tissue from the colt's left hind hoof.

Barbaro developed severe laminitis in his left hind leg in July, requiring the surgical removal of about 80 percent of that hoof. On Tuesday, he showed signs of acute discomfort in that foot, and his veterinary team removed its cast and discovered new separation of the hoof wall from the rest of the hoof.

"We do not believe that this setback puts him all the way back to where he was in July," said Dr. Dean Richardson, Barbaro's surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center, in a statement issued Friday. "He has much more healthy tissue on the bottom of the left foot than he had at that time. He spends part of each day in his sling, and he is eating well and acting bright."

Barbaro broke his right hind leg on May 20 during the Preakness Stakes and has been in intensive care. He developed laminitis, a painful and potentially fatal inflammation in the hoof, in the opposite hind leg, a common complication in horses that shift excessive weight off of an injured leg and onto an uninjured one.

Veterinarians continue to monitor Barbaro's right hind leg, which had shown enough healing that Richardson removed its cast on Nov. 6. "We have a solid column of bone to work with in the right hind limb," he said. "There are no signs of infection in either limb at this time. It is very disappointing to have him go through this setback, but we will continue to try to keep him comfortable and assist his healing with reasonable and humane measures."