Barbaro's final resting place determined

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January 29, 2008 9:03:55 AM PST
Barbaro will be buried at the site of his greatest triumph.The 2006 Kentucky Derby champion will have his ashes interred at Churchill Downs. The horse was euthanized on January 29, 2007 from complications of a breakdown suffered at the Preakness.

Barbaro's remains will be placed outside of an entrance gate in a large elevated space enclosed by bricks. The site will also include a bronze statue commissioned by owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson and loaned to the track as part of the official memorial site.

Gretchen Jackson said Churchill Downs was the best place to honor the colt, who won the Derby by a dominating 6-1/2 lengths before being injured in the Preakness two weeks later.

"(The Derby) was for us the greatest race that Barbaro ran," she said. "When we think about Barbaro, we think about him running around the track out there. We'll always have that joyous memory."

The Jacksons wrestled with the decision on where to bury the colt for months. The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. was among several places that offered to accomodate the Jacksons.

Ultimately, they said they wanted to make sure the public would be able to visit the memorial whenever possible.

"After the Derby and then when he got injured, he really became America's horse," Roy Jackson added. "We sort of felt an obligation that his remains and statue be erected someplace where the general public could pay their respects."

As spectacular as the colt's career was, he became an icon after breaking his right hind leg a few hundred yards into the Preakness. His eight-month battle to survive captured the hearts of people across the globe. Fans set up Web sites, and well-wishers flooded the New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., and Churchill Downs with cards and gifts.

"His accomplishments as a racehorse are certainly rivaled by the courage and resolve he displayed after his injury," Churchill Downs president Steve Sexton said.

Pictures of the colt from both his racing career and his eight-month rehabilitation at the large animal hospital at New Bolton flashed above a stage before the Jacksons spoke. The Jacksons smiled while watching a short film featuring local schoolchildren talking about Barbaro and showing pictures they drew of the horse following his injury.

Barbaro will be the first Kentucky Derby winner to be buried on the grounds at Churchill Downs. Four previous winners - Sunny's Halo, Carry Back, Swaps and Broker's Tip - are interred at the Kentucky Derby Museum, which is adjacent to the track.