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My Guy Barbaro: A Jockey's Journey Through Love, Triumph, and Heartbreak with America's Favorite Horse Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
Edgar Prado tells his story on how he got the opportunity to be the jockey of Barbaro and how the champion emerged as something very special in his life. Prado is especially candid on his personal feelings on the Preakness and covers every aspect of what was supposed to be another race on the track to immortality, but became - in a few seconds - a trek of life and death.
There are excerpts of letters sent to Prado from fans, which chronicle the outpouring of concern and grief for Barbaro. A powerful section is what was Prado's last visit with Barbaro at the The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's New Bolton Center and how he was notified that the Thoroughbred lost his battle to defeat the long odds caused by mounting health problems.
This is a powerful recollection and is an absolute must for anyone who was touched by any aspect of Barbaro's story.
Author Edgar Prado, Barbaro's jockey, tells this heartbreaking story with skill and compassion. From the moment Prado first sees Barbaro, he is impressed. "He wasn't a sleek and slender classic beauty. He was all jock."
Prado successfully petitions the owners to let him ride the big colt. After a thrilling win in the Kentucky Derby -- with the largest margin of victory since 1946 -- Barbaro is the favorite for the Preakness. But in this second leg of the Triple Crown, the horse sustains an injury, a terrible fracture. By quickly stopping Barbaro, Prado prevents the racehorse from damaging his leg further.
Although at first it seems to go well, the recovery effort does not work. At the end Barbaro is suffering and losing weight. The big horse is put down.
Prado includes 33 color photographs, most of them of Barbaro in his glory days, racing around a track. He seems to be flying, with his feet barely touching the ground. A shot of him the day before the Preakness shows Barbaro in his stall, reaching out his long neck and nuzzling the horse next door.
That one got to me. I cried.
The first time he saw Barbaro, Edgar was riding another horse in the Laurel Futurity. As Barbaro broke away from the pack to win by eight lengths, Edgar says, "My horse had basically stopped running when he saw Barbaro pull away. I swore the sight had depressed him. But it had thrilled me. When you see a horse accelerate and finish like that,... you know you're seeing something special."
He describes his feelings after a phone call in which he and trainer Michael Matz agreed that Edgar would be Barbaro's new jockey: "I smiled as I hung up. I was being handed the keys to a Lamborghini."
Edgar talks about the significance of Barbaro starting out as a turf horse and switching later to dirt. Previously, Barbaro had been saddled on hard concrete floors in paddocks before racing on dirt tracks. However, preparations for the Preakness were different. "Now he was being saddled on grass, which excited him. He was a turf horse at heart,... He was never happier than when he was running on grass. The longer he stood on the grass, the more excited he became. He breathed harder. His muscles tensed. He was noticeably pumped up by the time I got on him." Barbaro was "agitated, impatient, a little too eager to get going" in the post parade. Edgar implies that this might have been a factor in the subsequent tragedy.
I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it, but I cannot give it a five-star rating. Throughout this book, Barbaro's magnificent groom, Eduardo Hernandez, is repeatedly and inexplicably called "Jose" (no last name). A quick Google during the book's editing process would have identified Eduardo so that he could have been properly acknowledged as the person who had given Barbaro such excellent and loving care.