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Friday, October 24, 2008

Curlin Goes for Glue: Breeders Cup Favorite Sports High-Tech Urethane Glue Shoes

Curlin Saratoga Morning Workout, originally uploaded August 2008 by Rock and Racehorses.

Horseshoer Curtis Burns, inventor of the Burns Polyflex shoe, confirmed tonight that Curlin has been wearing a custom-designed square-toe Polyflex shoe since early last summer when the colt arrived in Saratoga, where Burns lives.

"We had so much rain in Saratoga early in the summer," Curtis said. "Steve Asmussen was looking for a way to protect his feet, so his blacksmith, Dave Hinton, changed to our shoes. And he was training so well, they just decided to race in them. And he won. So he still has them on."

Burns said that Curlin was re-shod at Santa Anita this week with the shoes, which are clear polyurethane with a steel wear plate and interior metal frame-wire for stability.

The only difference between the Polyflex shoes that Curlin wears and those that several other Breeders Cup horses will wear is that trainer Steve Asmussen convinced Burns to custom-make square setback toes for the front shoes of the big chestnut colt.

The shoes were so successful that, as of this week, Burns now offers both the full toe and square toe models for his customer.

Curlin remains the traditionalist in his hind feet, however: our friend Ed Kinney, president of Thoro'Bred Racing Plate Company, Inc. of Anaheim, California reports that Hinton confirmed that Curlin will wear Thoro'Bred wide web aluminum racing plates behind.

Other horses wearing the Burns Polyflex shoes will be (at the time of this writing) Big Booster in the Turf Marathon, Miraculous Miss in Friday's Sprint, and Student Council, and some other horses trained by Asmussen.

Burns said that his shoes have been worn by several of Todd Pletcher's horses in the past. Because many farriers now feel comfortable applying the shoes, Burns no longer applies them himself and said he's not sure who's wearing them.

Curtis likes Midnight Lute, the 2007 Breeders Cup Sprint champion trained by Bob Baffert, to come back from a quarter crack. According to press reports, he will run in a bar shoe.

Food for thought: in the old, old days, glue was made from horses' hooves. Now we put glue ON their hooves.

Note to readers: I hope you will study Sarah's photo of Curlin on the Oklahoma track at Saratoga, where he was in training until a month ago. Notice how deeply his hooves sink into the "natural" dirt surface. Please read the blog article that follows this one, about the new artificial surface on which the Breeders Cup will be run, and watch the embedded video of Curlin galloping on that surface. Remember that Curlin won the 2007 Breeders Cup Classic in the pouring rain over a muddy-beyond-words track.

© 2008 Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing, publishing 23 October 2008 at

1 comment:

SaratogaSpa said...

Fran--you always educate me. I examined the photo of Curlin at the Spa and than Curlin working at Oak Tree. What a difference -his hooves sink much deeper in the "natural" surface.

I am trying to learn as much as I can about these new surfaces, and the effect on the sport and the health of these beloved horses-thanks for the help.