Will Selva Covered Barbaro’s Victory at the 2006 Kentucky Derby

By Will Selva

The Kentucky Derby took an exciting turn in 2006 when 6:1 favorite Barbaro stumbled at the beginning of the race, but charged his way to the lead on the last turn of the track to win by more than six lengths. While working as a Sports Anchor for CNN, Will Selva covered the history-making event in which Barbaro won by the largest margin of victory witnessed at the Kentucky Derby in some 60 years. Will Selva offers an overview of Barbaro.

In 2006, the Kentucky Derby featured the largest crowd ever in attendance. The second pre-race betting favorite to thoroughbred Brother Derek, Barbaro went into the competition without having competed for five weeks prior. However, up to that point he remained undefeated in five previous races over the past six months. With jockey Edgar Prado, Barbaro faltered at the start of the one-and-a-quarter mile race but came back strong to win in 2:01.36, becoming only the sixth undefeated horse to win the Kentucky Derby.

The horse’s first place prize of $1.45 million boosted his career winnings to $2.3 million. Unfortunately the success would be short lived. Just two weeks after his momentous win at Churchill Downs, Barbaro broke his right hind leg in more than 20 places on the first straightaway at the Preakness Stakes race in Baltimore, Maryland. In the following months, Barbaro would undergo extensive surgery and a slow recovery process. A nationwide public outpouring for the horse began as veterinarians gave Barbaro a 50-50 chance of survival.

For the first several months after the initial surgery, he appeared to make a solid recovery. However, complications that surfaced four to five months following the injury required that Barbaro undergo euthanasia, as he could not survive with just three legs. Today, a number of tributes and memorials to Barbaro exist, including a bronze sculpture of the horse at the entrance to Churchill Downs.