Goodbye Barbaro, thanks for the memories.
Roy and Gretchen Jackson, the owners of the gallant racehorse, Barbaro, who was euthanized one year ago today, have decided to inter his cremains at Churchill Downs in Kentucky, where he won the Kentucky Derby in May 2006.
Barbaro, who shattered his right hind leg during the running of the Preakness Stakes in late May 2006, battled eight months for his life in a Pennsylvania veterinary hospital. The bay colored colt was eventually euthanized after developing laminitis, which is an incurable inflammation of the digital laminae in a horse's feet.
"In the year that has just preceded, we have spent much time thinking about Barbaro's memorial and where it would be best placed," Roy Jackson said in a news release. "Churchill Downs became the obvious site for us. It was here that he ran his best race. It was here where we spent our most memorable day as horse owners and breeders. It was here where his racing fans could visit daily, and it was here at Churchill Downs where he was cordially invited to rest."
Although four Kentucky Derby winners [Sunny's Halo (1983), Carry Back (1961), Swaps (1955) and Broker's Tip (1933)] are buried at the nearby Kentucky Derby Museum, Barbaro will be the first horse to ever be buried at Churchill Downs. Visitors can get to Barbaro's gravesite without going inside either Churchill Downs or the Kentucky Derby Museum.
"Churchill Downs is deeply honored to be selected as the final resting place for Barbaro, who first captured our hearts with his impressive win in the 132nd Kentucky Derby and who demonstrated strength and determination in his long battle to overcome both injury and illness,'' said Steve Sexton, president of Churchill Downs and executive vice president of Churchill Downs Inc.
Barbaro's cremains will be interred in a garden outside Gate 1. A bronze statue of Barbaro, commissioned by the Jacksons, will be loaned to Churchill Downs and will stand at the site after its completion in 2009.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised in Barbaro's name to help find a cure for laminitis.
Thoroughbred racehorses are the unfortunate victims of poor breeding program management and careless animal husbandry by humans. I say this as the owner of three former racehorses, all Thoroughbreds, who are now used for trailriding and in a sport (polocrosse) that does not require drugging them or beating them (and that they actually seem to enjoy, with their competitive natures).
If you look at almost any Thoroughbred off the track with a critical eye, you'll find overuse injuries, conformation flaws, poor hoof structure, and/or inadequate bone density in the legs. Thoroughbreds have been bred to run faster, period, with little or no regard for the anatomy or disposition required to meet the demands of racing. For every Barbaro that receives the best veterinary care following an injury, there are ten other Thoroughbreds that broke down on a track somewhere and had to be destroyed.