Barbaro was a dark bay or brown colt, bred and owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson and trained throughout his tragically short racing career by Michael Matz in Fair View, Maryland. A grandson of Roberto, who won the English Derby in 1972, Barbaro raced just once as a juvenile, beating two rivals by 8 lengths and upwards in the Laurel Futurity at Laurel Park in November 2005. He also won the first two starts of his three-year-old campaign, the Tropical Park Derby at Gulfstream Park West and the Holly Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park – both Grade 3 events – before making a successful transition to Grade 1 level in the Florida Derby at the latter venue.
The following month, Barbaro recorded the biggest – and, sadly, the last – win of his career in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Stepping up to 1 mile 2 furlongs for the first time, the Dynaformer colt led at the two-furlong marker and only had to be pushed out by jockey Edgar Prado for an impressive, 6½-length win over Bluegrass Cat. In so doing, he recorded the widest winning margin since American Triple Crown winner Assault won the “Run for the Roses” by 8 lengths in 1946. Winning punters counted their winnings like someone who’d just stuck the jackpot on slots, Online Casino Deutschland style.
Two weeks later, Barbaro lined up for the second leg of the American Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, for which he started hot favourite. Initially, Barbaro broke through the starting gate, but was soon pulled up and reloaded, only for disaster to strike seconds after the start. The horse broke down on his off hind leg after a furlong and was later found to have shattered, splintered and cracked bones above, below and at the back of the fetlock joint.
He was treated for his injuries at the New Bolton Centre at the University of Pennsylvania – coincidentally, just three miles from the Jacksons’ Lael Stables in West Grove, Pennsylvania – and his broken leg eventually healed, albeit not perfectly. However, by that time he had developed laminitis – a hoof disease, to which horses with broken limbs are particularly susceptible – in both front feet. Consequently, he was humanely euthanised in January 2007. In his racing career he had won five of his six races and earned over £1.3 million in prize money.