Barbaro's chief surgeon: 'We're in a marathon'

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. -- Day to day, for six straight days
now, the reports on Barbaro have been good.

Good vitals, good attitude, stable.

Dr. Dean Richardson is looking way beyond those daily updates,

"His condition is not likely to change really fast any time
soon," said Richardson, the chief surgeon attending the Kentucky
Derby winner at the New Bolton Center. "We're in a marathon at
this point.

"The issue is months, not days," he said Wednesday. "He has a
long, long way to go."

As most racing fans know, the 3-year-old colt is recovering from
a shattered right hind leg, which broke in three places shortly
after the start of the Preakness on May 20, and severe laminitis in
his left hind leg.

During a press conference last week, Richardson said the horse's
prognosis for recovery was "poor," especially since most of the
left rear hoof was cut away because of the often-fatal disease.

That hasn't changed.

"I'd be laughed out of the profession if I said this horse's
prognosis is anything but poor," he said during a brief telephone
interview from the center.

Richardson said Barbaro's condition shouldn't take any sudden
turns -- for better or worse -- because it takes a long time to
recover from laminitis.

"It is possible he could have a bad night, but it could be just
a bad hour and we wouldn't go crazy about that," Richardson said.

He also said the shattered right hind leg, reconstructed with
pins and plates, is "going in the right direction."

"Every day I'm encouraged," Richardson said. "No one wants to
quit on this horse. No one wants him to suffer."

Casts on the horse's hind legs were changed Monday, and
Richardson said the left one will be changed often so the laminitis
can be treated. So far, he likes the way the hoof is healing.

"It looked as healthy as you could have expected it to look. I
was very pleased," he said. "If you're not used to looking at
that sort of thing, it might not look healthy."

Barbaro needs to regrow that hoof if he is to have any shot of
walking -- albeit with a hitch in his gait. That might not happen
until early next year, if at all.

"We're still talking months, many, many months," Richardson
said. "We're talking about six-plus months, as far as how long to
go if he grows one. The next few weeks, that's very important."