IMAGES | Honoring Barbaro: Fans pay tribute 10 years after his K - WDRB 41 Louisville News

IMAGES | Honoring Barbaro: Fans pay tribute 10 years after his Kentucky Derby win

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Fans gathered at the Barbaro statue outside Churchill Downs on Tuesday. Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby in 2006. (Photo Toni Konz, WDRB News) Fans gathered at the Barbaro statue outside Churchill Downs on Tuesday. Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby in 2006. (Photo Toni Konz, WDRB News)
Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News
Photo Toni Konz, WDRB News Photo Toni Konz, WDRB News
Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- He captured the hearts of millions and on Tuesday, some of Barbaro's most devoted fans came from as far as California, Connecticut, Virginia and Florida to remember and honor the 2006 winner of the Kentucky Derby.

And they brought ribbons, flowers and messages from hundreds of people who purchased them as part of a campaign that raised money for thoroughbred racing charities and the University of Pennsylvania Laminitis Research Fund.

"We do this for our love of Barbaro," said Clare Noble, who is from Florida . "We all love horses, but Barbaro was the ultimate in the strive for excellence. He represents courage, stamina and our dream to watch a great horse win. He didn't get the chance, but I think he would have been a Triple Crown winner had he not broken down in the Preakness."

They are called the FOBs -- the Fans of Barbaro. The horse was undefeated, having won 5 starts, when he arrived at Churchill Downs for the 132nd Kentucky Derby.

Some of the messages were deeply personal:

"To my sweet FOB sister Melody. We love you"

"In memory of Marcia Runyon, who taught me to love animals"

"In loving memory of Barbaro, the greatest horse ever"

The Kentucky Derby's website sums up Barbaro's performance in the Kentucky Derby perfectly, saying he "captured the attention of sports fans everywhere – he was an impressive athlete in the eyes of race fans and even gained fans that had never seen a horse race."

"Fans old and new were eager to watch him in the Preakness, and confidently hopeful he would be the first to win the Triple Crown since 1978," the website states. "Triple Crown hopes diminished suddenly when Barbaro shattered his leg in the Preakness Stakes, but his fame propagated and he became the object of public affection."

It was after Barbaro's injury that the FOBs formed -- they came together online to follow his recuperation process and in the end formed lasting friendships.

"We have stayed together after the sad day he was euthanized in January 2007," said Linda Walker of Virginia.  

Many fans gather at Churchill Downs on Barbaro's April 29 birthdate to pay their respects at his memorial statue and final resting place, which is located outside Gate 1.

Roy and Gretchen Jackson chose to place Barbaro's remains outside of both Churchill Downs and the adjacent Kentucky Derby Museum to allow his many admirers to pay their respects without having to pay an admission fee.

It is one of the most photographed statutes and memorials at Churchill Downs.

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

Copyright 2016 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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