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Monday, August 10, 2009

Curlin's Horseshoe Beat Him to the Hall of Fame

by Fran Jurga | 10 August 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

The square-toe glue-on Polyflex horseshoe design dictated by Curlin's 2008 campaign needs

A highlight of last week's Hoofcare and Lameness/Hoofcare@Saratoga reception for the Ride On! exhibit at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame was a little piece of plastic with a big story to tell.

Oklahoma horseshoer David Hinton had been scheduled to be with us but had to change his plans; he will be with us this week at the Parting Glass at 7 pm (August 11) instead.

David shoes for the Asmussen Racing Stable and flies all over the country. Last year, he was working on Curlin when the champion colt was stabled at Saratoga and training for the Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup as part of his campaign toward the 2008 Breeders Cup and becoming North America's richest-ever racehorse.

Trainer Steve Asmussen had success with the Polyflex shoe developed by Saratoga horseshoer Curtis Burns on other horses but he only wanted a square-toed "Silver Queen" type glue on for Curlin. The problem: the Polyflex shoe had a round toe.

Changing the mold for one horse in the middle of the busiest time of the year was a tall order for the Polyflex team but somehow, but mid-summer, a prototype was made and put in Hinton's hands to try on Curlin. Not only did it work, the company soon added the design as an alternate model and it is selling well.

Curlin went on to wear the shoes for the rest of his career. Asmussen starter Kensai wore Polyflex glue shoes a week ago when he won the Jim Dandy, although I don't know if they were square toes or round toes.

One of the square-toe shoes that Curlin wore in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, when he passed the $10 million earning mark, was presented with documentation to the National Museum of Racing last Tuesday, on behalf of Stonestreet Farms, owner of Curlin. Burns and Hinton worked behind the scenes with Hoofcare and Lameness to make this happen for the night of the reception, which was sponsored by Life Data Labs.

The shoe was presented to curator Beth Sheffer, who was thrilled to receive it. She said it was the first glue-on shoe the museum would have in its permanent collection, although they currently have on display Big Brown's Kentucky Derby Yasha shoe on loan from Ian McKinlay.

Sheffer revealed that the museum had received the extensive shoe collection of Calumet Farm in Kentucky and its late trainer Jimmie Jones. The collection is in storage.

The Ride On exhibit contains examples of horseshoes, hoof boots, and pads used to overcome different lameness problems, especially laminitis, in horses. Included in the exhibit are two handmade shoes by Michael Wildenstein FWCF (Hons), adjunct professor of farrier science at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, and a selection of rail and roller motion shoes by Dr. Scott Morrison of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's Podiatry Clinic in Lexington, Kentucky. Also included is the Soft-Ride hoof boot, which Dr Morrison helped to develop for laminitic horses.

Dr. Morrison will speak on Tuesday, August 11 in the Hoofcare@Saratoga series at the Parting Glass, 40 Lake Avenue, Saratoga Springs, at 7 p.m.; Michael Wildenstein will speak on August 18 at 7 p.m., with a farrier-only session in the afternoon. Admission to both lectures is free; seating is limited.

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Kevin Stafford said...

LOVE IT!!! About a year ago a gentlemen who works for Jess Jackson sent me some momentos from his Preakness win. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't hoping beyond hope for a lucky horseshoe.

Still loved what he sent - but I've always wondered what happened to his old shoes. Seems those would make great keepsakes - especially if tied back to an individual race ("this was on Curlin's right front hoof durin the '07 Preakness when he ran down Street Sense...").

Another plus - horse shoes don't smell as bad as people shoes. I can't imagine anyone would want a pair of used track & field stars shoes unless they had been scrubbed, steralized, and disinfected - but Curlin's? Right on the wall they go!

Great know I get excited whenever new Curlin info breaks. :-)

wendyu said...

Kevin I was thinking the same thing about the shoes... having a Curlin shoe would be much less stinkier than having a high top that Michael Jordan wore when he played for the Bulls... plus for me, a horse makes a much better role model than most NBA players.

Then I got to thinking... "wonder why Nike or Adidas hasn't gotten into the horse shoe world" but it's probably for the best.

It'd be fun to see a swoosh on the bottom of a horses shoe as they pass the grandstand the first time around.

Good stuff Fran! I enjoy your blog.