Saturday, August 27, 2011

Travers: Shackleford Sticks with Glue-on Shoes for Summer's Biggest Thoroughbred Race; Horseshoe Technology Exciting Area of Track Safety, Health Innovation

The feet of a survivor: Shackleford ran in all three Triple Crown races in 2011, and provided some exciting memories. He won the Preakness in May wearing polyurethane glue-on Polyflex shoes, thus becoming the first Triple Crown winner to cross the finish line first in non-metal glue-shoes. The shoes appear rather amber-colored in this photo taken by Sarah K. Andrew (Rock n Racehorses) last week at Saratoga. The urethane is transparent, and shows a thin metal wire embedded in the plastic; the shoe also has a wear plate at the toe. Shackleford is shod by New York-based horseshoer Brad Dewey. The whitish patch on the colt's heel quarter is adhesive. Shackleford is a very large colt, an imposing equine specimen who could have a second career as a photo model. His face is marked by a wide white blaze with a triangle at the top, giving his face the appearance of a arrow pointing to the sky. He's easy to spot in a race. His namesake, an island off North Carolina populated by wild horses, is probably underwater right now.
News just in: That handsome Shackleford will race in today's Travers Stakes at Saratoga in his favorite high-tech run-a-red-streak horseshoes. Trainer Dale Romans confirmed this morning that his big red colt will stay in his Polyflex glue-on shoes, in which he won the Preakness Stakes in May. That was the first win of a Triple Crown race by a horse in plastic glue-on shoes. Let's look at it again:
2011 Preakness Stakes: first Triple Crown race won by a horse wearing glue-on and/or plastic horseshoes; Big Brown won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with his aluminum shoes glued on.
There was some uncertainty, apparently, in the Roman camp that Hurricane Irene might arrive in time to turn the Spa to soup, but Irene is busy elsewhere and the rains aren't predicted to begin until long after the sun sets in upstate New York. A wet track, however, didn't impede Curlin when he won the Jockey Club Gold Cup in the same type of glue shoes in 2008. I still miss that horse. Just for old times' sake, watch him win that race, which catapulted him into the #1 spot in all-time money-earning racehorses:
2008 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes at Belmont Park won by Curlin in plastic glue-on horseshoes over an off track; Curlin also wore the shoes when he won the Woodward that year.
The first stakes horse to run in glue shoes was Afleet, back in the 1980s; his trainer opted for the Mustad Easy-Glu. Since then, horseshoers at racetracks have had success with a variety of raceshoes adapted for glue, and in even directly gluing aluminum raceplates to the foot. Experimentation with glue shoes (rather than nails) goes back to the 1800s. Most experimentation has been done in Germany, which also gave rise to the newest era of glue shoes when the Glu-Strider emerged there in the 1980s. That shoe was developed by a creative engineer and horse owner named Peter Steubbe; the technology was quickly purchased and continued in research and development of a full line of shoes by hoofcare giant Mustad International.
Asmussen horseshoer David Hinton working on Curlin's foot, shod with a urethane Polyflex shoe. (photo courtesy of Polyflex)
Glu-Strider technology was based on a Super Glue type adhesive, while the current generation of shoes uses two-part PMMA-type adhesives. PMMA is the family of adhesives that includes the glue used by women to hold artificial fingernails to their nailbeds. The innovation and experimentation in footwear is one of the most exciting areas of developing health and safety innovations in racing today. At the same time, the Association of Racing Commissioners International is considering a model rule to allow horses to run without shoes. Currently, barefoot racing is outlawed in about half the jurisdictions in North America. The Grayson Jockey Club Foundation's Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit has kept shoeing and hoofcare in its sights since the consortium was founded in 2006. The Summit has an ongoing and active Shoeing and Hoof Care Committee that meets regularly and consults on shoeing-related matters affecting Thoroughbred racehorses. A sub-committee is tackling the possibility of a uniform, nationwide racetrack shoeing licensing program and test, and is currently seeking input from the industry. Mucho Macho Man and Nehro are two other Triple Crown contenders who ran in glue shoes in 2011. Top older stakes horse and candidate for Horse of the Year Tizway, winner of the Metropolitan and Whitney, also wears the Polyflex shoes.
Banker pony at Cape Lookout National Seashore.
The racehorse Shackleford has probably never been anywhere near the Shackleford Banks off the North Carolina coast. And with Hurricane Irene in the neighborhood, he wouldn't want to be there. The area is famous for the wild horses, called Banker Ponies, that freely roam the dunes there. Photo courtesy of Kurt Repanshek and
Glue-on shoes are now so ubiquitous  at the track that it's hard to find out when horses win in them. We found out about Shackleford in the Preakness, after the race was over; he was shod by Brad Dewey. Horseshoes aren't as visible as a tack change or new style of blinkers or Zenyatta's ear plugs, so the news of innovative horseshoes isn't always obvious.
Here's a partial list of stakes horses who won their races (some set track records) wearing the Polyflex glue shoes: Ambitious Cat, Bargain Baby, Big Booster, Brother Derek, Buzzards Bay, Charitable Man, Cry and Catch Me, Cowgirls Don't Cry, Cubera, Divine Park, Dream Play, Eldaafar, Essential Edge, Ever Elusive, Foxysox, Fredaville,Golden Yank, Greeley's Conquest, Hold the Salt, Hot Dixie Chick, Indian Blessing, J Be K, Kandar Du Falgas, Kensai, Lantana Mob, Little Belle, Lucky Island, Luna Vega, Major Rhythm, Malibu Mint, Mo Cuishle, Mr Fantasy, Nehantic Kat, Noonmark, Octave, Osidy, Pray for Action, Present Danger, Pyro, River's Prayer, Roses 'n' Wine, Secret Gypsy, Set Play, Seventh Street, Shaggy Mane, Silent Name, Sok Sok, Stormin Baghdad, Stream of Gold, Student Council, Total,  Teuflesberg, Uno Mas, Wow Me Free, and Zanjero. (Names harvested from the Polyflex web site.) Favorite little known fact about Polyflex glue-on shoes: Both Curlin and his beloved stable pony Pancho wore them! Nothing but the best for the champion's best friend! Watch Shackleford and all the top three-year-old Thoroughbreds entered in today's Travers Stakes at Saratoga on NBC Sports at 5 p.m. Lots of news about the race and the track on To learn more about Polyflex shoes, visit Photo of Shackleford's feet courtesy of Sarah K. Andrew and Rock 'n Racehorses. Sarah is a frequent contributor to the Hoof Blog and keeps a key eye on the hooves at the track. Her track and sport horse photography is nothing short of phenomenal; Sarah is also a key ingredient in the success of Camelot Weekly, the all-volunteer program at the New Jersey horse auction that channels racehorses, sport/recreational horses, and companion horses into new homes instead of the killer pen--via Facebook! Sarah photographs the horses available each week, without compensation, and I wish a book publisher would make a coffee table book of these portraits of horses in need. They have saved thousands of horses from slaughter; not one horse from that auction has been re-routed to slaughter since they began.
Click on ad for easy ordering of this spectacular, award-winning graphic reference poster featuring image from the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine's Equine Foot Laboratory, Dr. Robert Bowker, and Dr. Lisa Lancaster.
The Unshod Racehorse: Racing Commissioners Table Model Rule on Barefoot Racehorses
Click on this link to go to the licensing survey for racetrack horseshoers.
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Rebecca Wyatt, PBHT III said...

Why are the toes bull-nosed? Doesn't that suggest a negative palmar angle?

Rebecca Wyatt, PBHT III said...

Why are the toes bull-nosed? Doesn't that suggest a negative palmar angle? What are they doing to correct it?

Garrett Ford said...

Great article. I'm excited to see horses at the top of the sport using alternatives. We have manufactured a urethane glue-on shoe that has not been well received in Colorado. Story below.

Would love some help.

Garrett Ford said...

Great article. Awesome to see horses using urethane alternatives at the highest level.

We tried to introduce a urethane glue-on product at Arapahoe Park without success. We were told it violated the traction rules. See the story here.

Would love the help.