It's hard to believe but two years ago Thursday we all learned the tragic news that Barbaro -- the horse that raced into our heart -- had lost his battle to survive.
Barbaro was more than just a horse. He epitomized grace and power both as a dominant victor at the Kentucky Derby and as a hobbled-athlete fighting infection following a catastrophic leg injury.
The 2006 horse racing season seemed like the year that finally a "Philly" thoroughbred was going to win the Triple Crown. Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex both came up one race short in the two previous years but in 2006 it seemed nothing could stop Barbaro.
He was undefeated entering the Derby and would remain undefeated after. He had and astonishing 6 1/2-length victory at the Derby.
He looked as though he was destined to remain undefeated -- to win the heralded Triple Crown.
But then something did stop the unstoppable horse and it wasn't an opponent but rather an injury.
A record crowd of about 118,000 fans watched as Barbaro was pulled up at the Preakness -- the horse writhed in obvious pain leaving fans in shock. He was loaded onto an equine ambulance as the race began to save his life.
The story seemed to end at Pimilco Downs in Baltimore, Md. On that May Saturday -- but, in reality, the legend of Barbaro was just beginning.
Doctors and fans expressed hope that Barbaro could fight the injury and walk once again.
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He had many ups and downs and by July he had developed a laminitis infection in the broken left hind leg.
Procedures continued as Barbaro fought to recover.
Late Sunday night January 28, 2007 Barbaro was in extreme pain and the fight to save him seemed futile. Head surgeon Dr. Dean Richardson could do no more -- Barbaro was humanely euthanized the following Monday morning.
The news struck hard throughout the world. Barbaro had become a sort of national hero after becoming injured. School children wrote him get-well cards and fans clamored for updates as he tried to recover.
It has been two years since the world lost Barbaro but he will never be lost in our hearts.