Ignoring the likelihood that Big Brown’s performance at Belmont was due to horse sense, humans are still rationalizing his historic last-place finish. But early on, Big Brown was the only one who knew his right hind shoe was flapping. A freelance photo just published in The Blood-Horse magazine captured it.
When Brownie’s owner, Michael Iavarone, saw the photo, he told Newsday, “The picture shocked me. When the shoe spread, a nail could have been pinching him. Or he could have been stepping on a hot nail, which would have been worse. I’m guessing the nail went back in but not in the same spot. Or it could have been a loose shoe, which would be like trying to run with a wobbly cleat. Any of those things would be significant for a horse running a mile and a half.”
Big Brown was supposed to be wearing Yasha shoes, which don’t even use nails.
Ian McKinlay invented the Yasha, which is glued to the hoof instead of nailed. It has padding that absorbs impact. McKinlay describes it as “like wearing a sneaker.”
Big Brown’s problem was loose glue. It would explain why he later didn’t seem to be favoring that foot and why they didn’t find any blood or other injuries to his hooves after the race. It was more like he just popped a French tip.
Big Brown is scheduled to race again on August 3 in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. I hope they make sure his glue sets before post time.