KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. - The patient was doing better - and that alone accounted for Dean Richardson's upbeat demeanor Friday.
A day after describing Barbaro's prognosis for recovery as "poor" because of an often fatal hoof disease, the colt's chief surgeon was able to report the Kentucky Derby winner had a "good night and even slept on his side."
That nugget of good news followed a week of distressful updates: surgeries and cast changes on Barbaro's injured right hind leg - the one that sustained three broken bones in a horrific misstep at the Preakness Stakes on May 20. And, perhaps most serious of all, a severe case of dreaded laminitis in his "good" left hind leg.
Barbaro was in stable condition after a restful night and a peaceful day, with his heart rate and pulse termed "good," according to statements issued by the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center.
"We are treating his laminitis aggressively, and he continues to respond well and is acceptably comfortable," Richardson said. "Our goal is to keep him as comfortable as possible, and clearly that comfort level will be a major indicator for our treatment decisions."
Rick Arthur, a prominent veterinarian on the California thoroughbred circuit, said Barbaro's upgraded condition offers "a ray of hope."
"When a horse has laminitis, the downs come very quickly and very dramatically, it's almost like going on a cascade," Arthur said.