Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hoof do you like in the Derby? Shoewear of the Fast and Famous

A feet-first introduction: Meet Visionaire, trained by Michael Matz. He's wearing a Kerckhaert aluminum race plate, imported from Holland. Visionaire's farrier is Todd Boston.

One shoe is worth a thousand words for Kentucky's Colonel: Look at this shoe shape. It's the "Fast Break" raceplate from Kerckhaert, also imported from Holland. Notice how broad the toe bend is. Colonel John is owned by WinStar Farm and trained by Irishman Eoin Harty. His farrier is Steve Norman.

Blog readers must wonder if there are other horses entered in Saturday's Kentucky Derby besides Pyro and Big Brown. The blog has focused on the special footwear worn by those two...but the other 18 horses have feet and some special shoes, too!

Our friend Dan Burke of Farrier Product Distribution (FPD) must have some sort of a VIP backstage pass at the Derby. He seems to show up at the stakes barn every year and usually has some great photos to share.

Thanks to Dan for sharing these photos. I guess it is no coincidence that these two horses are wearing Kerckhaert plates, as was War Emblem a few years ago. Dan's company imports Kerckhaert shoes to the USA. Thanks, Dan!

PS For all the racing people checking in to this blog, especially the ones referred by the New York Times (thank you!): Look at these feet and you will see why we put so much store in the size, shape, and fine points of a horse's hooves. You can easily see that the frog (triangular tissue protruding on base of foot) is very different in each horse, as is the shape of the foot. There are always differences between front and hind shapes, and often between left and right, on the same horse, but the difference from horse to horse may not be obvious until you see two photos together, as we are showing you here. Unfortunately, the horse with the best feet is often not the fastest, or else we'd have cleaned up at the betting window years ago. However, the horses with better feet stand a chance of racing longer and staying sounder. If you are going to race a gelding, you want him to have great feet!