Sunteți pe pagina 1din 16

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY 1

Running Head: BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS

Barbaro: Preakness Tragedy Case Analysis


Claire Caudill
Professor Mason
Case Studies for Public Relations
Pittsburg State University
November 30, 2015

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS

Introduction
Horse racing has been an important sport throughout history. It was a sport that was said
to be fit for a king since only kings could afford the finest horses. The racing of horses is
something that made its way deep into American history. Three of the most prominent races
across the country have been grouped together to become what is known as the Triple Crown.
The chosen races are the Kentucky Derby (Churchill Downs), Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont
Stakes with each race being more challenging than the previous. These tracks were chosen to test
different strengths that the horses should have. These monumental races occur over five short
weeks. These races are also for three year-olds who should be in the best shape of their career.
The Kentucky Derby is a one and a quarter mile long track, the Preakness is one and three
sixteenth miles long, and the Belmont is one and a half miles long; with all of these races
happening in May with little time in between to rest, (Triple Crown FAQ - Triple Crown
Races,2007). Barbaro was a Triple Crown contender that stole Americas heart. This three yearold was to be the next Triple Crown winner since the last winner was in 1978 on a horse named
Affirmed (Triple Crown Winners, 2010). This analysis will explore the story of Barbaro is one
that is filled with sadness that led to the death of this young colt.
Description of Emphasis
Thoroughbreds are the main breed that is used for racing. While the horses are made for
running, they have very long and spindly legs. Most of the racing of these horse occurs before
they become five year-olds, which is young for a breed that can live up through their twentys.
Most horses retire at the age of three from injury or the pull of money to send the horse to stud.

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS


The young horses get put to pasture, and become future dams or sires for the next generation.
With the racing industry being a greedy one many of the owners are looking for a way to make
money off of their broken investment. These horses can have stud fees ranging between $3,200
and $300,000 depending on how many races they have won and the horses bloodlines. Allowing
this to occur does not prevent the possible outcomes of future generations that could deal with
the same health conditions, and develop more severe problems of their own.
In the equestrian world bloodlines mean everything to some people. Good bloodlines
produce good offspring, making a horse better than its competitors, or at least that is the idea.
The goal is to create that miracle foal that will have the best traits possible in order to make the
most money in the industry. Barbaros sire, Dynaformer was said to be the best modern source
of stamina in the American Thoroughbred (American Classic Pedigrees), while his dam La Ville
Rouge has an impressive career as well. The two gave Barbaro the stamina and speed that would
give him the career he deserved.
Most of the breeding that occurs with racehorses is Thoroughbred to Thoroughbred, but
since Thoroughbreds are known for having weaker bone structures breeders will put in a Quarter
Horse to attempt and give the next generation possibly stronger bones. Quarter Horses get their
name from their ability to run at full speed for a quarter of a mile. The hope is when mixing the
breeds the horses will not lose any of their stamina from being a Thoroughbred. Dynaformer was
known for inbreeding in his bloodline which led to ill-tempered foals, and the increased risk of
health complications later down the line. According to a radio broadcast
...the issue about horse breeding today is that so many - that horses are
bred kind of purely for speed and with kind of no - with no emphasis on durability

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS


and stamina. I mean, all breeders seem to want today is to get, you know, like a
quick precocious horse rather than a, you know, the one who's going to have
staying power. Now, having said that, Barbaro was kind of an exception to the
normal practice. He was really - he had the superb pedigree, a distance running
pedigree, and, you know, by a sire who was very durable. So, you know, I would
say Barbaro kind of went against the grain anyway, (Beyer, Heartbreak at the
Preakness), 2006.
Injuries in the racing world are more common than people would like to believe. In the
years 2000 to 2006 three Midwestern racetracks were observed, and the conclusions to the
findings were:
The total number of race starts (both breeds) at the 3 racetracks from
2000 through 2006 was 129,460, with an overall incidence of 1.46 CMIs
[catastrophic musculoskeletal injuries], /1,000 race starts. Incidences of CMIs
among racetracks were similar. Of horses that sustained a CMI, the median age of
Thoroughbreds at first race was 3 years, compared with a median age of 2 years
for Quarter Horses. A larger proportion of Thoroughbreds sustained a CMI in a
claiming race than did Quarter Horses. 139 Thoroughbred and 50 Quarter Horse
racehorses euthanized because of CMIs, (Beisser, 2011).
The most common reason for retiring Thoroughbreds are bowed tendons 23%, Osselets 21%,
knee injury 20%, splint 6%, bucked shin 5%,fractured Sesamoid 4%, sand crack 3%, fractured
Fibula 2%, Suspensory Ligament 1%, and other 15% ,(Kane,2006). Despite how common these
injuries are in horse racing, Barbaros specific case was sensationalized since he was a Triple

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS


Crown contender. The horses that have qualified for the Triple Crown are thrown into the media
spotlight.
After Barbaro won the 132nd running of the Kentucky Derby (held in 2006) many hoped
that he would be the one to break the dry spell of not having a Triple Crown winner in twentyeight years. The racing community was desperate. The last winner was Affirmed in 1978 so we
were due for a winner, (Horseracing nation). Barbaro had only raced five times in his brief
career. While short, he was undefeated. His outstanding victory at the Kentucky Derby was
almost unseen in todays world of racing. Barbaro ran the mile and a quarter track in 2:01.36
with an outstanding lead on six and a half lengths with a full field of twenty three year-olds
which was said to be the toughest in years. The fastest Kentucky Derby was in 1973 when
Secretariat ran a time of 1:59 2/5. Barbaro was running the Preakness Stakes when he was
slowed mid-race and the worst was feared. Barbaro had shattered his right hind leg specifically
his pastern while shattering his lower leg into twenty pieces. It might have been the recovery
time from the Kentucky Derby or the track conditions or a mixture of both that led Barbaro to
this ill-fate. Normally with an injury such as a fractured pastern a horse does not have a bright
outcome. Barbaro was led back to his stall and veterinarians saw "He had shattered his pastern,
but it was quite surprising to see he had the condylar fracture of the cannon bone, as well. With
those two things, we were trying to think of the way we were going to get the fracture together
because the word 'euthanasia' never entered any of our thoughts," says Dr. Nick Meittinis,
Pimlico's attending veterinarian (Kane,2006).
The pastern is a bone on the hind legs of a horse. This bone runs from the
hock, knee, down to the top of the hoof. The fetlock is the equivalent to his ankle
bone. Barbaro's right hind leg was broken in three places. There was a condylar

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS


fracture of the cannon bone right above the fetlock (ankle) joint, which likely
occurred first in the sequence, creating a chain reaction as jockey Edgar Prado,
after hearing the bone crack, struggled to pull him up. After the initial fracture, the
fetlock was dislocated, the sesamoid bone behind the fetlock was broken, and the
long pastern bone below the fetlock was shattered into more than 20 pieces,
(New York Post).
The veterinary team did their best to quickly fix the problem at hand: Barbaro's right hind leg
was shattered in the May 20 Preakness. Surgery performed by Richardson the next day saved the
colt. (Jeradi, 2006) The surgical team was hopeful that the horse would make a complete
recovery, but only to an existent. There was a good chance that Barbaros racing career was
over.The hope was that Barbaro would recover, and be put out to stud. This would mean that he
would become a breed horse, and his owners could still make money off of the horse. His stud
fee would be higher than what it would have been before he was in the Kentucky Derby.
Barbaros value went up substantially for winning the Kentucky Derby: Barbaro is worth tens of
millions of dollars as a stallion, should he survive, (Conan,). However, the question still
remained:
Would all this money and time be spent on a horse's recovery if he were not the
Kentucky Derby winner and expected to gain millions in stud fees? If this horse
were a gelding these owners would have definitely done everything to save this
horse's life, said Dr. Dean Richardson, who pinned together the leg bones the 3year-old, shattered in the Preakness. "If this horse could have absolutely no
reproductive value, they would have saved this horse's life. Even if Barbaro

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS


becomes a stallion, there still would be questions concerning his ability to cover
mares because of the catastrophic injury to his hind leg.
What would the fate for Barbaro be if he was not used for stud? What would a horse that
was bred for running do for a career now? These were the questions that were asked by
the public.
A month after the lifesaving surgery that was preformed everyone on Barbaros team
thought he was in the all clear to be put out to stud, but he was far away from being released
from veterinary care. A secondary infection soon developed, which comprised his chances of
surviving:
He got laminitis, which is a hoof disease that is often fatal in his left hind leg. So
he trouble with both hind legs. Yesterday doctors were forced to perform surgery
to insert two pins through the cannon bone - that's the bone right below the hock
on a horse's foot - to help keep the weight off the foot. They built a brace-like
structure that's keeping the weight off his leg because there's an abscess that they
need to be able to treat. So that they're hoping with this external treatment they'll
be able to do something to help him. But now they're worried that his front
hooves may be in trouble because now there's extra pressure on them, so they're
worried that he might develop laminitis in his front hooves as well (Derby Winner
Barbaro Still at Risk from Injuries, 2007).
The hope that Barbaro would live and sire offspring of his own was lost when his owners
decided that after an eight-month long battle it was time to put his suffering to an end.

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS


For these past eight months, Barbaro has been literally performing a
balancing act. He rested mostly on his left hind leg while his broken right one
healed. That caused the left foot to develop laminitis, a serious and often fatal
inflammation. While that tried to heal, he stood more on his right hind foot, which
caused an abscess to form. That required surgery Saturday to fashion a device that
literally left him standing on his right leg bone, the one that only recently was
broken. And that wasn't the end of his problems, said Richardson. Dr.
RICHARDSON: The biggest thing that happened in the last 24 hours is that he
did develop fairly severe laminitis in both front feet. So that essentially left him
with not a good leg to stand on, and that was just not going to work out in the long
run. JULIE ROVNER: Barbaro's owners took pains to thank not just Barbaro's
doctors but also the public for their outpouring of well wishes. Roy Jackson said
while he's sad now, the experience hasn't been wholly negative.Mr. ROY
JACKSON (Co-owner, Barbaro): We hope that a lot has been learned by this case
that will help other horses in the future. JULIE ROVNER: One beneficiary is the
New Bolton Center itself. The vet school has raised more than a million dollars so
far through its Barbaro Fund. But there will never be any little Barbaros, the colt
was never bred and U.S. racing rules forbid artificial insemination, (Morning
Edition).
Barbaros condition began to deteriorate during the first week of July. He developed an abscess
on his left hind leg, which was treated topically. The following weekend he developed that fever
through to the following week. He would still never put any weight on his injured leg for a
significant time. His fight for survival was an unyielding battle for this three year-old. When

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS


mid-July came Barbaro developed a horrendous case of laminitis, a potentially life-threating
ailment that is common in horses who shift weight to one foot for extended periods of time to
relieve pressure, in his left hind hoof. During this time eighty percent of his left rear hoof was
removed while the remaining twenty percent was attached to the coffin bone. It was unclear how
much of the injured hoof would grow back. His rear legs were both in cast. The veterinary team
put Barbaro in a boot that would help the young horse stand again. A special sling was brought in
to rest his legs for a few hours a day. In August his right leg was fused, and they would have put
him in a brace if the left leg was sound. By mid- August he was allowed to go outside and graze
for the first time since his accident. A few days later he no longer needed the support of his sling.
By September his hoof had grown back enough to be replaced with a bandage, but it was not
completely back to normal. November and December were good month for Barbaro. Cast were
removed, and his leg was healed.
January 2007 was filled with ups and downs. Another section of his hoof was removed,
and the cast was reapplied to his right leg and the sling was brought back. An abscess developed
on his right hind leg which required another surgery that would place rods outside of his leg
alloying him to bare more weight. His front legs began to develop the same problems as his hind
legs, which caused Barbaro not to be able to stand on any of his legs. The end of January his
owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson decided that his pain was no longer manageable and was
euthanized.

Explanation of Research

10

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS


My goal was to find out what exactly happened to this three year-old racehorse, and to
track his progress from when the injury first occurred until the day he was euthanized. The
research collected was mostly print-based articles with some broadcasting scripts. The articles
were difficult to find, because the number of injuries in the horse racing industry are greater than
anyone would hope to imagine. Trying to find veterinary journals that had information about the
type of breaks and complications that Barbaro had were more difficult to find. The details of his
medical record were not available to the public. Photographs of his injury before and after were
found in newspapers, while his x-rays were easy to find as well. The questions I had for this case
were 1) what factors do bloodlines play in the horse racing industry, 2) the types of injuries that
Thoroughbreds are at risk for, 3) what was done to save Barbaros life, 4) what were the
complications that arose, and 5) what role did the media play? I was able to answer all of the
questions that I had. Although I was not able to get all of the information that I was looking for, I
still found enough research material to answer my questions thoroughly.
Analysis
The articles were handled in a way that was targeted towards a specific target market. The
jargon and technical terms that were used were specific equine, horse racing, and medical terms
that needed prior knowledge to comprehend. For example, They created a tube, with the hoof,
the pastern, and the cannon bone, in a straight extension inside it, (Kane, 2006). If they were
able to define what the pastern and the cannon bone were it would have made the article easier
for the general public to understand.
Once the team decided that Barbaro was a surgical candidate the race was on to save the
Kentucky Derby winners life; trying to save his right hind leg that was broken in three places,

11

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS


and shattered in twenty was a surgical nightmare. Barbaro proved his strength when he awoke
from the several hours of surgery, and then began his eight months of physical therapy and more
surgeries to come. The media did their best to keep Barbaros adoring fans informed with the
most up-to-date news of how the three year-old was doing, and what his prognosis was, but the
lack of education on the medias behalf showed. The media writers lacked prior knowledge but
also did not attempt to further their own knowledge through research of the subject. The articles
felt like they lacked emotion. The situation was not handled with the care or expertise it
deserved. Having writers that truly understood, and cared about the situation and who were
knowledgeable of the situation would have made a dramatic difference in how the media came
across. The authors could have developed the story more if they were willing to do extra research
that would have broadened their knowledge, and therefore what their audience would learn. The
stories would have had more connection with the audience if they would have heard from the
owners to see how they were handling the situation, but also from the veterinarian.
Shortly after Barbaros death another tragedy struck the horse world with yet another
death. In 2008, Eight Belles was a filly that had qualified to run in the Kentucky Derby, a race
that is normally filled with colts. She crossed the wire 4 3/4 lengths behind favorite Big Brown.
Then, with the second-largest crowd in Derby history still whooping it up, Eight Belles collapsed
with two broken front ankles. The magnitude of what happened was slow to reach the fans at
Churchill Downs. Not only was a horse down, but it was the filly. And horse racing - with the
memory of Barbaro still fresh and the death of a horse coming only a day earlier on Kentucky
Oaks Day - had to confront grief one more time. There was no way to save her. She couldn't
stand,' trainer Larry Jones said. She ran an incredible race. She ran the race of her life

12

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS


(Harris).'' The media did a better job of covering the aftermath of this accident by explaining
what happened, and that there was nothing that they could do to save this horse.
Discussion
Searching through articles that took place from May 2006 to February 2007 was difficult
since there were many of injuries over the time frame that resulted in surgery or euthanasia.
There are race tracks across the world that have tragedies, and many of the horses that want to
make a name for themselves travel to the United States in hope to take the title of a Triple Crown
Champion. So, this increased the number of injuries to horses that were covered by the media,
Also, finding the information of bloodlines and the history of Barbaros specific bloodlines were
important to this case. Barbaro would not have been in the media spotlight if he was not from a
popular racing bloodline and a talented Triple Crown contender.
The few positives that came from this tragedy were that Barbaros full brother was born,
and would hopefully have better luck than his older brother, and a memorial fund was opened in
hopes to save horses like him. This horse did what he was known for and brought people
together. His legacy will live on in all who remember him. Medical professionals were able to
learn from this tragedy with new advancement in treatments in hopes that they will be able to
save the life of another if this tragedy arises in the future. The team of medical professionals
learned that time is always against them, but that noticing certain signs such as when Barbaro
was favoring his injured leg that there was a signs of laminitis that was growing. A special boot
was designed to help support the injured leg enough where he could stand. The laminitis was
growing and sections of his hoof had to be removed. A few days later veterinarians operated
again, and more of the hoof had to be removed. This time screws were added attaching to his

13

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS


coffin bone. The team learned how to deal with the media while also saving a life. They learned
how fast things can turn for the worst, and how to deal with a shattered cannon bone. Barbaros
owners endowed a chair for equine disease research at the University of Pennsylvania veterinary
school.
Conclusion
The story of Barbaro was one that stole Americas heart. The horrible tragedy that was
filled with positives then hit with a horrible spiral downwards resulted in the euthanasia of a
wonderful animal. Learning how the veterinary team reconstructed his shattered leg, so that he
was able to stand on it again was a medical miracle. With the horrible addition to his right leg
breaking, laminitis, and the issues that he was having with his front legs Barbaros fate was
sealed. There are questions we might never know the answers to such as were there warning
signs that could have prevented this injury, or was greed the main factor into this horse losing his
life.
Learning from the research that helped answer questions, and required to ask even more
question helped unfold the details of this case. After his dominating win in the Kentucky Derby
and the tragedy in the Preakness Stakes, the details of his injury and recovery were not correctly
handled. Barbaros story was not understandable to the general public, who had the right to
understand and learn about the tragedy that happened to this amazing racehorse.
"Certainly, grief is the price we all pay for love,"- Gretchen Jackson, owner of Barbaro.

14

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS


References
Barbaro euthanized Monday morning. (2007, January 30). Retrieved November 30, 2015, from
http://espn.go.com/horse/news/story?id=2747087
Triple Crown FAQ - Triple Crown Races. (2007).Triple Crown Races. Retrieved November 28,
2015, from http://www.triplecrownraces.com/triple-crown-faq/.
Triple Crown Winners. (2010.). Horse Racing Nation. Retrieved November 27, 2015, from
http://www.horseracingnation.com/content/triple_crown_winners#
Dynaformer (horse). (n.d.). American Classic Pedigrees Retrieved November 28, 2015, from
http://www.americanclassicpedigrees.com/dynaformer.html
Beisser, A. L., McClure, S., Wang, C., Soring, K., Garrison, R., & Peckham, B. (2011).
Evaluation of catastrophic musculoskeletal injuries in thoroughbreds and quarter horses
at three midwestern racetracks. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association,
239(9), 1236-1241. doi:10.2460/javma.239.9.1236
Jeradi, D. (2006, July 15). No promises, but Barbaro has a good night. LexisNexis Academic.
Retrieved November 28, 2015, from http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic/?
verb=sr&csi=247246&sr=HLEAD.
Kane, E. (2006, July). Saving Barbaro: veterinary experts poured from all corners of Pimlico to
aid an American inspiration. DVM Newsmagazine, 37(7), 1E+. Retrieved from
http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE

15

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS


%7CA167776722&v=2.1&u=psu_main&it=r&p=HRCA&sw=w&asid=8e315ff46dd6b1
57ca2c82df7a04edfb
BARBARO ON MEND. (2006, May 23). New York Post [New York, NY], p. 83.Retrieved from
http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/NewsDetailsPage/NewsDetailsWindow?
failOverType=&query=&prodId=&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&displayquery=&mode=view&displayGroupName=News&dviSelectedPage=&limiter=&currPag
e=&disableHighlighting=&displayGroups=&sortBy=&zid=&search_within_results=&p=
OVIC&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE
%7CA146127228&source=Bookmark&u=psu_main&jsid=9437663a91a90298d1bad871
4fcfac1c
With horse doing well, owners look toward the future. (2006,). The Berkshire Eagle
Heartbreak at the Preakness Stakes. (2006, May 22). Talk of the Nation. Retrieved from
http://library.pittstate.edu:2149/ps/i.do?id=GALE
%7CA159200572&v=2.1&u=psu_main&it=r&p=AONE&asid=9bc08050059d174d708f
ec40dffa29e6

Derby Winner Barbaro Still at Risk from Injuries. (2007, January 28). Weekend All Things
Considered. Retrieved from http://library.pittstate.edu:2149/ps/i.do?id=GALE
%7CA158502951&v=2.1&u=psu_main&it=r&p=AONE&asid=6e0c00478fa49a8408b74
53468b181a6

16

BARBARO: PREAKNESS TRAGEDY CASE ANALYSIS


Beth Harris The Associated Press. (2008, ). Kentucky derby: Eight belles euthanized on spot.
The Salt Lake Tribune
Derby Winner Barbaro Loses Fight for Life. (2007, January 30). Morning Edition. Retrieved
from http://library.pittstate.edu:2149/ps/i.do?id=GALE
%7CA158592328&v=2.1&u=psu_main&it=r&p=AONE&asid=c0ed685489c1ab2035e7e030ce3
2ead8