The image of Barbaro blazing down the stretch at Churchill Downs, all four hooves off the ground as the powerful bay colt crushed the field in the 2006 Kentucky Derby, is seared in Roy Jackson's memory.
It's the way Jackson prefers to think of Barbaro, whose thunderous surge left a field of 19 fellow 3-year-olds in the dust and whose courage after a breakdown at the Preakness two weeks later made him an iconic figure.
When it came time to decide how best to honor the horse, who was euthanized on Jan. 29, 2007, from complications of the breakdown, there was only one place Roy Jackson and his wife, Gretchen, felt Barbaro would feel at home: a short gallop from the site of his greatest triumph.
Barbaro's ashes and a bronze statue will be placed in front of an entrance gate at Churchill Downs sometime in 2009. The Jacksons announced plans for the memorial on the one-year anniversary of Barbaro's death, a day they called one of the most difficult of their lives.
Yet there was no sadness yesterday, only relief and joy.
The Jacksons agonized for months about where to place his ashes, which are currently in a closet in the family's Pennsylvania home. Ultimately, they chose a place where the public that filled Barbaro's stall at New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., with get-well cards, candy and gifts during his rehabilitation could pay tribute whenever it wanted.
"After the Derby and then when he got injured, he really became America's horse," Roy Jackson said. "We sort of felt an obligation that his remains and statue be erected some place where the general public could pay their respects."
As spectacular as the colt's career was - his 6 1/2 -length win in the Derby was the widest margin of victory in 60 years - it was Barbaro's battle to survive after the breakdown that made him an emotional touchstone for so many.
"His accomplishments as a racehorse are certainly rivaled by the courage and resolve he displayed after his injury," Churchill Downs president Steve Sexton said.
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