07/09/2006 12:00AM

Infection prompts surgery for Barbaro


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro underwent another surgical procedure on Saturday to replace the locking compression plate and many of the screws that have been holding his shattered right hind leg together since May 21. Veterinarians also are treating him for an infection, according to a release issued Sunday afternoon by his surgical team at the University of Pennsylvania's equine hospital.

"Barbaro had developed some discomfort and a consistently elevated temperature, so we believed it was in his best interest to remove the hardware and thoroughly clean the site of the infection," chief of surgery Dr. Dean Richardson said in the release. "We also applied a longer cast on that leg for additional support."

The 3-year-old Dynaformer colt's main fracture has shown progress in healing, but "the pastern joint that doctors are attempting to fuse continues to be the area of concern," according to the release. "This joint was stabilized with new implants and a fresh bone graft."

Richardson also noted that Barbaro's recovery from anesthesia took longer after this surgery than previous procedures.

"He is receiving pain medication, antibiotics, and other supportive care," Richardson said, emphasizing that the complications are "potentially serious."

Barbaro fractured his right hind leg early in the running of the Preakness Stakes on May 20 and was shipped immediately to the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa. He underwent surgery on May 21 to insert the plate and 27 screws to stabilize the fractured areas and has been in the center's George Widener Large Animal Hospital's intensive care unit ever since.

Last week, Richardson replaced Barbaro's cast twice, once on July 3 and again on July 5, in an attempt to alleviate discomfort the colt had shown.

Barbaro continues to receive frequent visits from Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who bred and own the colt; trainer Michael Matz; and other connections such as his regular exercise rider, Peter Brette.