Funds started in Barbaro's memory still growing

Funds started in Barbaro's memory still growing

Mar 01, 2008

Kennett Square, Pa. — The Barbaro Fund and the Fund for Laminitis Research, both established a year ago after the death of the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, grew substantially with recent gifts and pledges, according to the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine.

The laminitis research fund stands at $2.7 million, including a $1 million pledge in November from Marianne and John K. Castle, Florida philanthropists whose gift will help fund research into the disease and support the school's Laminitis Institute directorship, which will be held by Dr. James Orsini, associate professor of surgery at Penn Vet's New Bolton Center.

When fully funded, the institute will have new research laboratories, improved clinical facilities, funds for student research projects and, in cooperation with other institutions, provide a home-care treatment model.

Two groups came to New Bolton Center the day before the one-year anniversary of Barbaro's death (Jan. 29) to present donations they raised for the laminitis fund Friends of Barbaro (FOB), who collected $7,000 in a national drive, and Laura J. Smith of Kenosha, Wis., who donated $3,619 from the sale of her Barbaro Christmas ornaments.

The Barbaro Fund, which continues to grow with hundreds of small and large gifts, stands at $1.3 million. Those funds will go toward "helping animals in their time of need" by expanding New Bolton Center's George D. Widener Large Animal Hospital and the purchase of new equipment, including a new operating table and recovery raft similar to the one used to awaken Barbaro after surgery, school officials say. About 80 percent of the hospital's patients are equine and the rest mostly farm animals.

After winning the 2006 Derby, Barbaro suffered severe leg injuries in a fall at the Preakness two weeks later. He made good progress for several months at New Bolton, but laminitis-related complications led to the decision to put him down Jan. 29, 2007.

His owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, created a $3 million endowment named for Barbaro's surgeon, Dr. Dean Richardson. It will be used to recruit an equine stem-cell researcher.

On the anniversary of Barbaro's death, the Jacksons announced that the horse's ashes and a bronze statue of him will be placed in front of an entrance gate at Louisville's Churchill Downs sometime next year. They have been keeping the ashes at their Pennsylvania home and say they made the difficult decision only recently to place them permanently at Churchill Downs.