Barbaro inspires idea for a museum

Owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson are not sure about Barbaro's final resting place, but they have an idea they want to pursue.

"My son-in-law, I think, had this idea that we really ought to get some kind of museum for the horses who have run out of this area," Gretchen Jackson said in an interview last night. "That sort of sticks in my mind. You'd have to look at that before you decide where Barbaro goes."

The 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, who had been at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square since suffering catastrophic fractures in May's Preakness Stakes, was euthanized Monday morning.

"We cremated him," Gretchen Jackson said last night. "I assume it's been done."

Monday was not the easiest day emotionally, but a day later, Jackson said: "There's a certain amount of relief knowing that horse is in a better place. . . . I don't have any regrets."

Like most owners of top thoroughbreds, the Jacksons had insurance, but Gretchen Jackson said she had no idea what it was worth or how Barbaro's time at New Bolton affected it. And they have yet to see a bill from New Bolton. "I cringe," Jackson said, half-joking.

"To discuss money in terms of what was spent in trying to save his life - I don't see how it's even remotely productive," said Barbaro's surgeon, Dean Richardson, aware that there had been a lot of such talk. "It cost a lot of money. But the horse was worth a lot of money, and the owners have a lot of money, and he earned a lot of money. The horse earned $2.3 million. He doesn't owe the Jacksons anything, and they know that."

One horse owner who has had multiple horses in surgery at New Bolton, and was aware of all that went into Barbaro's care, estimated that the cost probably did not go higher than the high six figures. Richardson said estimates "talking about millions of dollars" were "totally ridiculous."

As for another area that has attracted widespread public interest, Richardson and Gretchen Jackson said no sperm was taken from Barbaro before he was euthanized. Under strict rules, thoroughbreds must breed with a mare naturally.

And passing Barbaro's genes on to other horses "wasn't the point," Richardson said. "That wasn't the point of working on Barbaro. It was never to save his value as a breeding stallion. It wasn't necessarily to save his genes. It was to save the horse. We would have done the same thing if he were a gelding."

"We don't even know if he was potent," Gretchen Jackson said.

Yesterday, representatives from the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs in Louisville and the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, both places where horses are buried, said they would be honored to have Barbaro buried there.

Gretchen Jackson said she and her husband had not ruled out any possibilities.

"It would be nice to have a memorial for Barbaro, a statue with access for people who loved him so much," she said. "He's our horse, and we'd like to bring him home" to the Jacksons' farm in West Grove, Chester County, "but this wasn't really his home."

But the idea of burying his ashes at a local horse-racing museum does appeal to her. She does not have any firm idea for a place. However, she talked of the facility's being near the local tracks, and mentioned that maybe Penn would consider donating a few acres at New Bolton if the idea ever got off the ground. Jackson is on the center's board of trustees.

She talked of the long local racing history, going back to Delaware County's Sam Riddle, owner of legends Man O' War and War Admiral.

"One of the first people I'd go to is Pat Chapman," a longtime friend and coowner of 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones, Jackson said. "I intend to talk to her."

She also mentioned the great local interest in Afleet Alex, the 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner. Jackson said she had not met the five owners from the Cash Is King stable.

"I'm sure everybody from Cash Is King would love to be affiliated with something like that," said Chuck Zacney of Phoenixville, managing partner of the group that owned Afleet Alex. "I think it would be a great idea."

Gretchen Jackson said her family had discussed the idea for a museum for about a month. She credited her son-in-law, Tom Zungailia.

Keith Chamblin, senior vice president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, told the Louisville Courier-Journal last night that he planned to launch a national fund-raising initiative into laminitis research in Barbaro's memory. Details were being finalized and were to be presented to the Jacksons for their approval, and could be announced as early as today.

Chamblin said NTRA Charities would channel 100 percent of contributions into research. The venture also could include public-service announcements on NTRA-sponsored racing telecasts and dates for organized fund-raisers at tracks and simulcast outlets across the country. Roy Jackson has been apprised of the effort, Chamblin said.

A full brother to Barbaro is a yearling, and his mother, La Ville Rouge, is in foal again to Barbaro's sire, Dynaformer. The Jacksons will own both colts. Asked about names during an appearance on CNN's Larry King Live last night, Roy Jackson explained that Barbaro's name came from a dog in a painting in their house of old family foxhounds. There are six hounds in the painting, he said. Look for more names from that same place on the wall.

"It brought us luck once," Roy Jackson said.


Contact staff writer Mike Jensen

at 215-854-4489 or mjensen@phillynews.com.