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Barbaro's injury reviewed -- closely


Questions have been swirling for more than three weeks about how Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro broke his right rear leg in the May 20 Preakness Stakes.

The biggest one is: What happened?

Yesterday, Maryland Jockey Club president and chief operating officer Lou Raffetto showed The Sun the stewards' video of the Preakness frame by frame in his Pimlico Race Course office.

The tape shows what could have happened as Brother Derek got a late start from the gate and trailed Barbaro down the track. At about the eighth pole, Barbaro appears to have an open path to the front, but for some reason swerves to his right, into an opening for which Brother Derek is aiming.

When Brother Derek's jockey, Alex Solis, sees Barbaro directly in front of him, he sits back and puts all his strength into pulling up his horse. Just as the horses enter a shadowed area, a side view shows Brother Derek's right front leg and Barbaro's right rear leg coming close. The shadow, however, obscures a clear image of whether their legs came in contact.

But in the next instant, Brother Derek's head is pulled strongly right, Barbaro's head comes up and his jockey, Edgar Prado, realizes something is wrong and makes his first effort to pull up his horse.

"It sure looks like something happened there," Raffetto said. "But as I've said, you can't be 100 percent sure. We decided, because it wasn't definitive, not to make it public. What difference would it make anyway? It doesn't change anything."

The Maryland Racing Commission decided at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday that it will look at the tape.

When Prado visited Barbaro two weeks ago at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., he was asked whether Brother Derek made contact. His answer was as shadowy as the tape.

"Maybe he did and maybe he didn't," Prado said. "It's one of those things we'll never know for sure."

But Solis told The Bloodhorse Magazine on May 30: "There's no way he could have struck Barbaro; I would have felt it. We were close behind him, but not that close. Getting that close to him and going that speed, if I had struck him, I would have gone down."

The tape offers plausible alternatives, more plausible than the idea that Barbaro hurt himself in the starting gate, because the only thing that appears certain is that when Barbaro, who had another good day of recovery yesterday, broke from the gate he was a healthy racehorse able to run.

Note -- Total wagering at Pimlico's spring meet was up nearly 5 percent over the same period a year ago, despite eight fewer live days conducted in 2006. The average daily handle was up more than 26 percent, to nearly $7 million. The money bet on Pimlico from outside Maryland increased more than 40 percent. Wagering on Preakness Day exceeded $87.5 million, the third-largest total. A pool of $56.4 million was bet on the Preakness.


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