Friday, December 4, 2009

Shoeing for shin-hitters

I got a call recently from a concerned Hoof Beats reader. He said he had a 3-year-old trotter who breaks only in the turns, hitting above his shin. To find an answer, I sent an e-mail to Steve Stanley, author of Shoeing News, the Hoof Beats monthly shoeing column. Here is an excerpt of what Steve wrote:

"I would try to use a longer shoe on the hind feet. Possibly even double trailers. This is a starting point.

I would also take a hard look at the horses hoof angles to see if there is a reason to change them. That requires one to look at the horse because a proper hoof angle can vary from horse to horse and in some cases even from right to left leg on the same horse.

Hitting high on the shin is a tricky one so I definitely would like to see the horse before giving potentially damaging advice. I also think it best to try the changes on only the front OR the rear shoes/hooves at a time. Making wholesale changes to both ends at once(unless something obvious is there) can just create more problems.

The second thing to look at is how that horse is breaking over on the front feet. This could easily be the primary cause but trying the double trailer ind shoe is less risky to the horses overall gait and performance."

Hope this helps! Like Steve said above, it's tough to give shoeing advice without seeing the individual horse, but there are certain fixes that could work in most cases. Just remember, try ONE thing at a time, or you won't know what worked and what didn't!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Passailed to retire (again)

I got a call from Pat Chella, owner of Passailed. You may remember Passailed from a July horse profile in Hoof Beats. He's the Abercrombie horse who retired for six years to become a sire in Quebec, then came back to the track. Here's the story:

Chella told me that Passailed had been racing competitively at Northfield Park. (In fact, I had seen him race live on Oct. 29 when I was there. He had the 8-hole and was 55-1, but I bet him anyway because I would have kicked myself if he had hit the board.) Thus far he's raced 26 times in 2009 with three wins and more than $13,000 in purses.

Passailed is going to retire from the track again, Cello said. This time he was purchased by Dr. Guy Hammond and will stand at Steuben Farms in Bath, N.Y, for $750. Passailed will have a send-off ceremony at Batavia Downs on Saturday, Nov. 28, and will go to Dr. Hammond's farm after that.

"I'm excited," Chella said. "I always thought he had some good stud potential. He's still got a lot of horses racing at Flamboro."

Passailed is an Abercrombie out of an Albatross mare, so here's hoping he brings to New York some more of the success that made that golden cross famous.

"Some of these grassroots guys on the fair circuit and in the late-closers need horses they can afford and Passailed fits that bill really nice," said Hammond. "He's a 13-year-old workhorse and that's what these guys on the fair circuit are looking for."

Have a happy Thanksgiving! TJB

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Ken

I hope you will all join me in wishing Happy Birthday to Ken Weingartner, my wonderful co-worker at Harness Racing Communications.

Ken is one of those people you feel lucky to know—who makes your day brighter. Our relationship is made even better by the fact that as much as we both love harness racing is as much as we also love the Philadelphia Phillies, and every year we make it a point to hit Citizens Bank Park for a Phillies game.

Ken is a terrific writer and more prolific than most of us can imagine. Be it Web stories, his weekly Web column, Hoof Beats stories, his great “Foal Patrol” series, we can always count on him to give us quality and quantitiy. Look for yet another Weingartner feature in the January issue of Hoof Beats on Lucky Jim. I know he will do a great job, as usual!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Treasured forever

Sad news today from New York. The star of the October 2009 issue, Treasure Blue Chip, was euthanized at the age of 34. She was featured in a beautiful story written by Ellen Harvey with gorgeous photos taken by equine photographer Barbara Livingston.

You can see the story here:

To live to 34 is amazing, and I am so happy that we had a chance to tell her story before she passed on. It was truly a race against time, as we were nervous that she might not make it until the story was published.

The full blow of horse mortality hit me today as I was editing "Greener Pastures," Hoof Beats' annual tribute to those horses who have left us. This year we lost such standouts as Amour Angus, Ralph Hanover, Beach Towel, Baltic Speed, Steinam and Conch. Many of these horses are to be memorialized in the words of those who knew them best in the December issue. I found the most touching to be from Marcia Hamilton on Baltic Speed, who she groomed during his fantastic racing career. Stay tuned for that.

Perhaps the most surprising loss was that of Snow White, the filly trotting phenom who was almost ready to make a glorious comeback from a host of injuries when she was euthanized after a fatal colic attack. Nicole interviewed Curtis Larrimore for the December issue, and it amazed me how close he seemed to be to her.

After reading these stories, it's hard to consider harness racing a "sport" with the horses merely commodities. Even though technological advances such as Trackus have reduced living, breathing animals to dots on a screen, it's refreshing, albeit bittersweet, to read the memories of those who lost the horses with which they were so close every day.


Monday, October 26, 2009

What About Those Crowns?

I couldn’t wait to come in this morning and talk to everyone about the Breeders Crowns—some great races, some big upsets, some disappointments. It was great to see Muscle Hill go out like that, especially since the BC has proved a stumbling block for so many other trotting champions. What a great year he had—it is sad to see him go. Well Said, on the other hand, had his share of challenges this year, and I was so disappointed to see him struggle in the Crown. His Jug performance left me breathless, and I wish we could have seen the same horse come out Saturday, but it was not to be.

Reports from the USTA staffers “on the ground” said Crown night was cold and blustery, and it seems the greatest shame comes from having the weather be perhaps a contributing factor in determining year-end championships. When the races are at the Meadowlands, the lateness of the season has been a factor; in Canada it’s the impact of the Great White North’s climate. Wonder how that will change when the races head to Pocono next year?

What do you think? E-mail me at so we can talk.

BTW, have you seen Adam Bowden’s blog where he is soliciting suggestions for whom to next breed Loyal Opposition? —some unique ideas are coming out.

Have a great day,



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mystery Photo SOLVED

On the Hoof Beats Web site, we asked you to identify the horse, people and date in the above photo. Thank you to all who responded. Here are some of the guesses:

Driver: Del Insko (3 votes), Bucky Day

Track: Washington Park (IL), Rockingham Park, Yonkers Raceway

Horse: Overtrick

I spoke with the reader who submitted this photo, Alice Szpila-Tisbert, and she said it's Splendid Splinter, with actress Sally Field in the bike, at Rockingham Park. The driver is "Butch" Tisbert, and the groom holding the horse is Bruce Aldrich. The date is still unknown. Thanks for playing!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Muscle Hill wins!

I don’t know how a horse could make it look easier. Muscle Hill took the lead right off the gate, floated clear by four lengths past the quarter, and trotted home six lengths in front to win the Kentucky Futurity. It was a view of greatness, for sure.

Greg Peck looked visibly relieved after seeming a bit tense earlier in the day. And Tom Pontone once again hugged and kissed all he could find, so happy was he.

Brian Sears said he was going to talk to Greg and the owners about racing Muscle Hill next week if the weather is good, because he truly believes the colt can break the 1:50 mark, and I don’t think anyone doubts him. If only the weather had been a bit more cooperative—the wind simply made it too much of a challenge. And that’s not to mean that Muscle Hill still couldn’t have done it—I am certain he could. But Brian was understandably not taking any chances. And who can blame him.

George Brennan just drove the last winner on the day—Shark Gesture in 1:49.2. What a great day of racing.