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No to Drugs, But Yes to Toe Grabs?

IEAH made a much-publicized announcement yesterday, saying that they’ll be weaning their horses off the juice by October (more or less, and not counting Lasix — one suspects the list of things that ‘don’t count’ may grow). They did not say a thing about toe grabs, though, which is a bit peculiar, given that not only do they increase the risk of injury to a horse, but they were clearly the reason (this week — see photo) that Big Brown didn’t fire in the Belmont:

“The other possibility is, if the nail broke off and came out, then he was running on a loose toe grab. I talked to Ian, and this has now moved to the top of everybody’s list. How it happened is the question; it’s very strange.

Check out Fran’s excellent post over at HoofBlog for more on the Big Brown Shoe Sideshow. The Thoroughbred Safety Committee was quite clear in its recommendation that steroids and toe grabs both be shown the door as soon as possible, yet there does not seem to be a loud chorus calling for their removal as there is for steroids. Most racing jurisdictions elsewhere in the world do not allow toe grabs, and in places like New York horses have their feet checked to ensure they aren’t wearing turn-downs (which are not allowed there) anyway — saying no to toe grabs should be even easier than saying no to drugs.

17 comments to No to Drugs, But Yes to Toe Grabs?

  • Blah

    If you state that the reason he didnt “fire” was clearly the dislodged shoe, than you need to recant on your criticism of this horse, whom you’ve underrated from the start. If this horse is run correctly (taken to the lead early), he will never come close to losing another race. This is the fastest horse any of us have ever seen and Curlin’s owners and trainer know this, which is why we most likely will never see that match-up.

  • Fran Jurga

    Oh, hang on a minute, Lisa! I hope you did not misunderstand my posts!

    All the brouhaha about toe grabs is ONLY in relation to their use on the FRONT feet, not the hinds. Everyone seems to want to keep them on the hinds, so this was a completely legal shoe, unless the heels were turned down, which is illegal in New York (not in some other states) or “bent” beyond a certain angle. I am quite sure this was and is a legal shoe.

    The horse had to go through a horseshoe inspection before the race and there is a paddock farrier on hand for loose shoe fixes in the saddling ring so it must have come loose during the race, in the gate, in the post parade, etc.

    Also, the jockey would have felt a loose shoe if it was loose before the race.

  • Superfecta

    Ah, blah, you missed the sarcasm! That’s what italics are for. If he’s so fast, why are his times so middling?

    Thanks Fran – I know that shoe is legal, but I’m still not buying that toe grabs are entirely safe even on the back (although I’m sure you have access to more recent research — I’m thinking back on studies from a few years ago).

    Of course, I don’t think the shoe had much to do with anything in this instance…

  • libby

    You know what Blah you are right, Big Brown is ify at best. If he is run correctly, if you this or that, Big Brown is allowed to be a hero in your mind. Your name is short two Blah’s.

    Curlin’s team has bigger fish to fry than to fret over a race Curlin has already won against the best and fastest three year olds in years.

  • SaratogaSpa

    Excuses, excuses, excuses

  • Blah

    I can not wait for people like you to eat your words. People have no idea how insane this horse truly is. He’s freakishly fast and if you can not see that from his times, ie. the fla derby, then you do not know how to read times. Preakness was a joke even though he was given an awful ride by desormeaux and the kent derby was a legendary race breaking out of that post.
    I love that people such as yourselves exist so it will give me better odds for the Haskell. Curlin is simply not as freakishly talented as big Brown.

  • Sports Haven

    I think the reason toe grabs aren’t a huge issue is that mainstream media don’t know much about it and therefore makes it tougher to report, where as steriods right now are a huge hot-button issue.

  • libby

    If Big Brown hits a 119 beyer then I would like to see him race Curlin. Curlin can run a 105 with no sweat at a weight of 128.

  • blah

    Hey superfecta, when big brown blows away the field at Haskell and in turn wins every race he’s ever been in (I’m discounting belmont, of course), will you give him a little credit? I’m not asking you to be rational and recognize the freak specimen that he is, but just something so your readers know that you can rise above your blind bias against him.
    Libby, that comment about the beyer figure takes you out of this argument and does not warrant a counterargument.

  • libby

    Awe come on now, don’t be sore, your BB has two more races to be the best horse of all time.. it is not going to happen, even if he wins with a low beyer against a soft field. A good way to shut people, like me, up would be a classic match, ala Seabiscuit and War Admiral. If the turf doesn’t work for Curlin perhaps this could happen, bu you better contact Three Chimneys first.

  • libby

    Blah said, I know from experience how frustrating it is to like a horse with talent that everyone criticizes or doubts. I defended Curlin last year. Keep on everyone about Big Brown because it is not for lack of talent that he is overlooked by some. It all boils down to Dutrow who is a real pistol, again in the headlines for testing positive for twice the allowable level of Clenbuterol, compound this desire to win with his mouth and all it does is hurt the horse. Big Browns biggest loss is the trainer and it is a real shame. I got lucky with Curlin because he is still racing magnificently. He has a following now but it took a long time to surface. Your passion is good for horse racing.

  • blah

    Big Brown’s problems have not been with Dutrow, they have been with Desormeaux (preakness, belmont). You’re making the mistake that too many horse people make which is allowing the beyer figure to weigh on your evaluations too heavily. I hope you’re right about a matchup with Curlin, especially given the pathetic race we all just watched in the fosters. I think I will actually donate some money towards the purse to make this happen. Curlin is a very good horse, big brown is a freak and it amazes me that you people can’t see this.

  • libby

    I will put in money, too!
    Desormeaux’s ride in the Belmont was perplexing at best to me. I would think a loose shoe could affect BB’s performance in a deep track, although even with this evidence we probably will never know, did the ferrier do it?-bad luck all around.
    I was at Churchill for the Fosters Day, it was a blast! The races were exciting! As far as Curlin’s race goes, he was bumped and boxed, rider and horse remained calm, they slightly accelerated down the stretch bingo a win. They had wonderful competition in the race, although I would like to see Einstein run against Curlin on grass.

  • Superfecta

    Big Brown isn’t going to face much in the Haskell – he wouldn’t have many excuses if he did not blow away the field.

    I didn’t like the hype around Curlin early last year, but he’s proven himself since then; Big Brown has yet to post a particularly fast winning time. It’s entirely possible he could be great on turf or as an older horse, but we’ll never know.

  • libby

    For the want of a nail
    a shoe was loose,
    For loss of the shoe,
    a horse lost,
    For the loss of the race,
    the night was lost.
    For the loss of the night,
    the battle was lost.
    For the loss of the battle,
    the Kingdom was lost.

    Blah, if you have got the kind of money to donate to a match purse, I would like a heads-up bet between us if BB and C ever meet!

  • blah

    Libby, I’d love to, it would be the easiest money i’d ever make, particularly when you consider that curlin will have to carry more weight.
    Superfecta, Big Brown (hopefully) will never run on turf, so that’s not an option. His kent. derby run breaking 6 wide is more impressive than anything Curlin or most any horse has done. I’m astounded that people who know even a little about racing can’t see this horse for what he is, in my opinion, the fastest horse I’ve seen in my time following thoroughbreds.

  • libby

    Easy money?-man nothin’s easy, you’re on!–perhaps, who knows? I will find you if such a miracle should take place!

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