Kennett Square, Pa. Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro has developed a severe case of laminitis, a potentially fatal disease caused by uneven weight distribution in the limbs, and his veterinarian called his chances for survival "a long shot."
Dean Richardson, the chief surgeon who has been treating Barbaro since the colt suffered catastrophic injuries in the Preakness on May 20, said the Derby winner's chances of survival are poor.
"I'd be lying if I said anything other than poor," Richardson said Thursday at a news conference at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center. "As long as the horse is not suffering, we're going to continue to try" to save him.
"If we can keep him comfortable, we think it's worth the effort."
If not, Barbaro could be euthanized at any time. Richardson said if Barbaro didn't respond quickly to treatment, "It could happen within 24 hours."
Richardson said the laminitis, a painful condition, has all but destroyed the colt's hoof on his uninjured left hind leg.
"The left hind foot is basically as bad a laminitis as you can have. It's as bad as it gets," Richardson said, while adding that horses can recover from the disease. He said he has discussed the situation closely with owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who have stressed that their main concern is for Barbaro to be pain free.
Richardson said Barbaro's injured right hind leg - the one that shattered at the start of the Preakness - was healing well, but because a horse has to be evenly balanced to carry his weight, laminitis set in on the other foot.
A procedure called a hoof wall resection removed 80 percent of Barbaro's left rear hoof. Both rear legs are now in casts.