Sunday, June 08, 2008

What Would Mr. Gibbs Say About Big Brown's Feet? Horseshoes Mean Something to New York's New Governor

What would the New York governor's great grandfather think of glueable Yasha shoes?

New York Governor David Paterson has a lot of firsts to his credit. He took over the leadership of the state on March 17, after the resignation of then-governor Spitzer. Paterson is New York's first African-American governor and the state's first blind governor.

What we didn't know until today is that he has piles of horseshoes in his past. While presenting the Belmont Stakes trophy to trainer Nick Zito, Paterson shared his family's horseshoeing connection.

Paterson's great grandfather was horseshoer to the powerhouse breeder/owner H.P. Whitney, owner of Greentree Stud, in the years after World War I in New York. In particular, Mr. Gibbs shod a horse with the apt name of Upset. Upset would hand the great Man 'o War his only defeat, in August 1919 in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, with Mr. Gibbs' shoes on his hooves.

Mr. Whitney, who just happened to be one of the wealthiest people in America, rewarded his blacksmith by buying him a house in the Fort Green section of Brooklyn. He also bought homes for some other members of his stable staff.

As Paterson describes it, the new house helped lift his family to a new level of possibility in pursuit of the American dream. Without Whitney's generosity, the house wouldn't have happened. It was the house where Paterson spent his childhood. And it was a house that some very lucky horseshoes built.

Thanks to the Left at the Gate blog and other sources for help in piecing together this story from Governor Paterson's remarks.