by Fran Jurga | 21 August 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog
"It's gotta be the shoes."
Todd Pletcher has broken nearly all the records for Thoroughbred racehorse trainers in the United States and what will he tell you is one key factor in his success? His horseshoer.
Approach Pletcher's Oklahoma training stable at Saratoga and you see what might be a little shrine, if you know where to look. Thick stall mats form a makeshift shoeing floor and big lights on stands are tucked away at the end of the shedrow during the day, but they come out so that the stable's horseshoer can get to work before the sun comes up.
That horseshoer would be Ray Amato, the 77-year-old secret weapon of Team Pletcher, and this week's darling of the New York media.
As Quality Road preps for the Mid-Summer Derby, The Travers Stakes, at Saratoga next Saturday, Ray is sure to attract a lot of attention. Quality Road missed the Triple Crown races while he recovered from front and hind quarter cracks, but he's come roaring back with a track record-setting prep race and is the favorite of many for next week's big race, though he will face Mine That Bird, Summer Bird, Kensai and perhaps even Rachel Alexandra.
Everyone wants to know how Quality Road's feet are...and they'll get a good story from Ray Amato.
Click here to go to the Albany Channel 9 television station to see the first of two interviews with Ray conducted by sports reporter Joe Calderone. Actually, Joe just let the camera roll and Ray just was himself.
And that's something pretty special.