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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Beating a Dead Horse(shoe): Big Brown's Loose Shoe, Revisited

Photo links to ESPN's article on hind shoe revelation.

In the hours after Big Brown failed to win, or even really finish, the Belmont Stakes two weeks ago, majority owner Michael Iavorone of IEAH told the Blood Horse:

"His feet are ice cold, quarter crack not an issue. He had a very loose hind left shoe, but that’s not an issue."

Now we are left to wonder: did anyone check the right hind?

This week's Blood-Horse shows a loose shoe on what looks to be Big Brown's right hind foot...and the photo was snapped early in the race.

Please read the article on, and also go back and re-read the Hoof Blog's original post about the loose shoe. The Blood-Horse expose of the loose shoe is in the mail and will probably show up on their web site at some point.

The report of a loose shoe was a grave concern to me when I heard about it; some of the farriers I talked to were also quick to state that that might have been a problem, particularly with traction in the deep track. They were more concerned by a loose hind shoe than by a patched front foot.

But the Big Brown camp dismissed hind shoes as having played any role in Big Brown's uncharacteristic performance in the race of his life.

I know that someone out there will say that the closeup photo is showing a turndown style of hind shoe, but turndowns are not allowed in New York racing rules and the horse would have been spun before he even got to the paddock.

I also interviewed farrier Tom Curl, who rebuilt Big Brown's fickle feet in Florida this winter. Tom was with the horse after the Belmont. He did not consider the loose shoe to have been a performance limiting mishap when asked about it.

Of course, we'll never know what happened to Big Brown that day. The colt's not talking.


Jessica Turner said...

It is beyond my personal logic why a shoe this loose wouldn't be cited by the BB Camp as a possible cause for BB poor performance in the Belmont. Besides being pretty logical, from a PR point of view it seems like a harmless scapegoat. Why wouldn't it be an issue? To run a race with a floppy shoe and possibly displaced nails?Iavarone's comments the day after the race mentioned the loose shoe. Yesterday Iavarone said, "I'm guessing the nail went back in but not in the same spot." Duh, if it didn't go back in the same spot, wouldn't have they notice an extra nail hole? I know I'd be neurotically watching for signs of bruising or abcess.

And Iavarone said that the shoe reset itself? Enough that they couldn't tell the shoe had been as loose as it looks in the picture? It looks like two nails got torn loose. It doesn't even look like the nails are there.

It just seems like a legitimate reason BB couldn't dig down deep (literally and figuratively) turning for home in the Belmont. Why wouldn't Dutrow, vets, and farriers notice something?

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