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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Big Brown’s Trainer Richard Dutrow Says Kentucky Derby Favorite Benefited from Expert Farrier Care Before Florida Derby

In this fun video, you can watch Big Brown gallop nimbly around the track at Gulfstream Park, winning the 2008 Florida Derby in near-record time last week while wearing glue-on shoes to help his front feet, both of which have suffered painful wall separations. What could he have done that day if he was 100 percent? Listen closely to the altered-lyrics of this familiar Jim Croce song; glue-on shoes are having their praises sung!

In an interview today with Hoofcare and Lameness Journal editor Fran Jurga, trainer Richard Dutrow shared some insights into the hoof problems that have been in the headlines lately.

If his horse Big Brown, owned by IEAH Stables Inc., can win the Florida Derby in near-record time from the outside post position with two hoof wall separations and special shoes glued on his feet, what might this horse be able to do if he was sound?

Dutrow said that when he arrived at his barn, Big Brown already had suffered one quarter crack, or wall separation, which was repaired in New York by hoof repair specialist Ian McKinlay. Later, the horse developed a second separation, in his “good” foot, after being shipped to Florida. This repair was handled by Tom Curl, a Florida-based hoof problem specialist who works with Ian McKinlay.

Among the horses on Curl’s resume are Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold and famed leading money-earner Cigar. He also helped Afleet continue his racing career as he ran in stakes races with the first glue-on race plates back in the mid-1980s.

Dutrow consulted his calendar and said that it has been 40 days since Curl repaired the second foot. He said the first one is all but “history”, but on the second (newer) one, the problem is still visible above the glue holding on the shoe.

On his hind feet, Big Brown wears normal shoes, but with turndowns. A turndown is an exaggerated heel calk, formed by twisting the heel of the shoe toward the ground like a spike. Turndowns are not allowed in New York.

Big Brown will not be in the spotlight at Churchill Downs and Keeneland, where most of the other Kentucky Derby candidates are training.

Dutrow said that Big Brown will stay in training at Palm Meadows in Florida, almost right up until the Kentucky Derby. He will fly to Louisville on the 28th of April, according to Dutrow’s current plans. The Kentucky Derby will be run on May 3rd.

“I see no reason to move him,” Dutrow said. “He’s better off. I’m happy to get him ready right where he is. He’s happy here.”

Dutrow had nothing but praise for McKinlay, who he said has helped him with hoof repair situations before, and Curl, who is close by in Florida. He said that it was great to have experts like them to turn to. “This horse is dodging his problems,” he said. “And he’s going to keep doing that.”

Please click here to learn more about quarter cracks and see a short video from Big Brown's consulting specialist Ian McKinley of a horse with a quarter crack.

Note: Most of the information published so far on Big Brown's glue-on shoes are about their very high cost. I am not sure how or why that information was given to the racing press, or if it is correct and whether or not that price included the patching, which is an involved procedure. There are many expenses involved in treating a complex wall separaton or crack and in gluing on special shoes. What matters is what the care and shoeing and patching allowed the horse to do. I hope to have more details about the shoes to post shortly.

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rather rapid said...

that is a most helpful post for those of us yet to have a "quarter crack". Interestingly, i had one tear away part of the hoofwall last year near the heel from ground to about 2/3 to coronet all the way to the quarter. The area keratonized very quickly and the horse was able to go right on training. thus, im wondering, instead of repair, which might be "iffy" as noted, whether it would be smarter just to cut away the lower section of the wall toward the heel and let the top grow back down. I'd sure like to see the rest of their repair process. are they sharing it anywere???

Jen said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I have an older mare with some hoof issues, so I've been forced to deal with hoof problems in the past and I've been really quite curious about what exactly has been going on with Big Brown's feet.

Fran Jurga said...

Glad you find this valuable, Jen. I hope I made it clear that Big Brown's problems are in the past. The special shoes are just protecting an area that was injured and treated so it can grow in properly. He is on the mend, or else he would not have been racing last week. It takes a while for the new heel to grow down, but the area does cornify and he is a healthy young horse so the new walls should be strong and tight. My guess is that the growth is quite advanced by now. I hope your horse is in good hands and can get some help from some of these great new products and techniques.


Irish Horses said...

The Yasha shoes make perfect sense.
All horses heels need to expand and move, as does the entire foot and normal shoes do not allow this.
The effect is like the old 'foot-binding' practises in the far east and foot deformities are inevitable as a result.
Once the hoof is allowed to move and the concussive forces are reduced, the foot can begin to restructure itself as nature intended.