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Remembering Barbaro: ‘America’s Horse’ Who Touched the World
February 6, 2007, Volume 53, No. 21

Barbaro and Dean Richardson
Barbaro with Dean Richardson

It had been more than eight months since Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro shattered his right hind leg at the Preakness and was rushed to Penn’s New Bolton Center for what doctors termed “risky” surgery and lengthy recuperation. Well-wishers from near and far expressed hope—through cards, gifts, flowers, baskets of apples and carrots, pictures, prayers, and e-mails—that he would survive despite the multiple fractures, but then setbacks including laminitis developed. When it became clear recently that the probable outcome was so poor, his owners and doctors decided the time had come “to do what was right for Barbaro.”

After Barbaro was euthanized Monday morning, January 29, President Amy Gutmann issued the following statement: “We are truly heartbroken to learn of the death of Barbaro. He was a magnificent animal, who fought towards recovery throughout these past months with a grace and spirit that was an inspiration to us all. Our hearts go out to his devoted owners, Gretchen and Roy Jackson, to his brilliant and caring surgeon Dean Richardson, and to all the devoted staff at Penn’s New Bolton Center who took such magnificent care of Barbaro all these months.

“Barbaro was a true athlete, whose unwavering spirit and will to live touched the hearts of thousands of people throughout the country and the world. He became ‘America’s horse,’ and despite his injuries and illness brought joy to the hearts of so many. We will miss him.”

Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine has Barbaro featured on its homepage, www.vet.upenn.edu/ where it says in part:

“Barbaro’s gallant fight to triumph over his injury and his laminitis has ended. The decision was made by considering what was best for him as a patient.

“The entire Penn Vet family is deeply grateful to all friends of Barbaro who sent flowers and gifts—along with their prayers and messages—to Barbaro and his caretakers at the New Bolton Center during his stay here.

“Our thoughts go out to his owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, as well as to everyone who followed his extraordinarily brave battle.”

Before turning over the University Council meeting to the moderator last Wednesday, President Gutmann thanked the School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center for its heroic efforts to save Barbaro, “an athlete,” who was cared for by Dr. Dean W. Richardson, Chief of Surgery and the Charles W. Raker Professor of Equine Surgery, and others at Penn’s George D. Widener Hospital at New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, PA.

President Gutmann noted that it is unusual for a horse’s death to be the subject of a New York Times editorial, but Barbaro was extraordinary. He was eulogized in the Times on January 30, in “One Horse Dies” one day after being euthanized. After President Gutmann said that Council should recognize the “extraordinary care” Barbaro received; applause erupted.

Almanac - February 6, 2007, Volume 53, No. 21