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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Horseshoers aren’t always lucky...but they always have a lot of friends

Under the fledgling gingko tree, The Saratoga blacksmith stands…

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow would have approved: On Tuesday morning, August 15th, recently-deceased Saratoga horseshoers were remembered in a memorial service at the horseman’s blacksmith shop behind the Oklahoma training track. Their living shoer friends stood around an anvil, under a tree, to honor them.

Jim Brummitt, Charlie Campbell, and Bruce Scott were familiar faces around Saratoga, and all three became ill and died last year at what should have been the heights of their careers. Charlie was the paddock farrier at Saratoga until his death; his twin brother Joe has taken over for him now.

A group of friends of the three pulled together and raised funds to create a memorial area by the blacksmith shop. A fresh young gingko tree, a picturesque anvil on a stump and plaques in remembrance of many deceased track shoers were dedicated.

The names on the plaque are: Jim Brummit, Charlie Campbell, Bruce Scott, Tony Amato. Jim O'Connell, Rodney O'Domski, John Dern, Frank Starns, Andy Gardner Sr., Tom McNabo, George A. Boyle, and George Boyle.

About 20 current horseshoers showed up for the service, which included prayers lead by former jockey Pat Day. He thanked the farriers for the part they played in making it safe for jockeys to ride in races.

I looked around and I noticed that none of them was younger than 40 or so. Where is the next generation of New York racetrack shoers? Maybe, because Tuesday is the dark day at Saratoga, they all had the day off.

I'm very glad I was able to be there for the dedication. It was a terrible shock for me to learn that Rodney O'Domski had died. I knew him quite well a long time ago when he was the farrier at Coolmore in Ireland and only learned of his death when I read the plaque.

Gingko is an herb that is supposed to prevent memory appropriate choice for a memorial tree.

Ray Amato promised he'd help me identify all the horseshoers in the photo; as soon as I have all the names, I will edit this post.

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