Bloodhorse.com has a new photograph showing a loose shoe on Big Brown early in the Belmont Stakes. The shot, taken by Russ Melton, seems to show the shoe unhinged or bent downward on the horse’s right rear hoof.
[Update: Bloodhorse.com has now posted a very cool photo series showing the loose shoe — and competitor Guadalcanal possibly causing the problem by stepping on Big Brown near the start.]
Michael Iavarone, Big Brown’s co-owner, says in the article, “We didn’t realize the shoe had dislodged the way it did. It’s a very curious area. Just above the bend, it looks like a there’s a loose nail. There is a possibility he could have been running on a hot nail… Of all the possibilities why he ran the way he did, this is the most interesting thing we’ve seen yet.”
On the other hand, trainer Rick Dutrow says, “I told Mike (Iavarone) right after the race all I see is that he’s got a little bit of a spread shoe behind… I saw the spread shoe right when he came off the track, and my blacksmith took it off. If there was an issue, when you take the shoe off, the horse would flinch from it. He did not flinch, and the blacksmith had to use his tools to take it off… I saw a little bit of a spread shoe, and when we took it off, he walked good and didn’t take a single sore step. So how can it possibly be an issue?”
So the mystery continues. Newsday has a little more on the story.