01/16/2007 1:00AM

Special Eclipse for Team Barbaro


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Barbaro's owners and the equine hospital that has been treating him will receive a special Eclipse Award.

The award will honor owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson and the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center for their attempts to save Barbaro, who has been hospitalized since breaking his right hind foreleg in the May 20 Preakness Stakes.

The National Turf Writers Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association present the special Eclipse Award to honor outstanding achievements in or contributions to Thoroughbred racing. The Jacksons and representatives of the New Bolton Center will receive the award at the Eclipse Awards dinner on Jan. 22 at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.

"We've tried to do the right thing from the start," said Roy Jackson, who bred and owns Barbaro with his wife, Gretchen. "It's been a surreal journey for us since the start of 2006, with a lot of ups and downs, but it is a real highlight in this journey to be recognized by the industry in this fashion.

"It's not just for ourselves, but also for Barbaro. He's been the one taking us on this journey."

An update Tuesday from the New Bolton Center said Barbaro's comfort has "improved considerably" after a setback in his recovery last week.

On Jan. 13, Barbaro underwent a procedure to trim more damaged hoof wall from his laminitic left hind foot. Earlier that week, he had shown acute discomfort in that leg and Richardson discovered that part of the hoof wall had become separated from the main part of Barbaro's hoof. The hoof wall has been regenerating slowly since July, when Barbaro's bout with laminitis in his left hind leg required Richardson to remove about 80 percent of the hoof wall.

Laminitis is a painful and potentially life-threatening inflammation in the hoof that can develop in a healthy leg when a horse shifts excessive weight off of an injured leg and onto the healthy one.

"Barbaro's comfort improved considerably following the procedure on Saturday morning," Richardson said in the Tuesday update. "He has been standing and moving around his stall well enough that sling support has not been added since. His appetite has improved, and his vital signs are stable. Overall, we are pleased with his progress following the setback to his left hind foot."

Barbaro remains in the New Bolton Center's intensive care unit. The center has scheduled its next update for Thursday, Jan. 18, unless Barbaro's condition changes significantly.