The making of a miracle
BALTIMORE — He was on the cusp of immortality when the country's premier Thoroughbred stumbled into a potentially fatal tragedy. Fans gasped and then cried as the undefeated Kentucky Derby winner suffered multiple fractures at the Preakness Stakes. But the veterinary miracle that was about to unfold became an epic of inspiration for racing enthusiasts around the world as fate, innovation and expertise converged to save the life of a horse that many hoped would win the Triple Crown.
Barbaro remained unusually calm and docile, making him a good surgical candidate even though his success rate was a long shot, says Dr. Nick Meittinis, Pimlico's attending veterinarian."When we looked in this horse's eye, he knew we were helping him," he says.
It was the beginning of an outpouring from well-wishers and admirers from across the globe. Momentum was building for Barbaro.
Zipf applied a Kimsley splint that was sufficient to get Barbaro back to Stall 40 in Barn E, the one always reserved for the Kentucky Derby winner. The team continued to treat him before the Baltimore City Police's motorcycle escort to Route 83. The motorcade continued by the Maryland State Police and Pennsylvania State Police all the way to the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) New Bolton Center.
"He got top-notch care right from the get-go, which was something that helped a lot — the track crew, the ambulance driver, all those people were tremendous and all deserve some credit," Palmer says.
Palmer recommended Richardson after the diagnosis had been made because of Richardson's expertise in repairing comminuted P1 fractures. They needed a savior. "Dr. Richardson is that surgeon," Palmer says. New Bolton Center was close, has a pool recovery system and an overhead sling for the induction of anesthesia. Palmer made the arrangements.