Big Brown Quarter Crack 'Not a Setback'

Anyone following Triple Crown races this year knows there's a lot of controversy about the soundness of Kentucky Derby/Preakness winner Big Brown's feet. But despite a third hoof problem in his short career--a quarter crack that showed up in his left front foot last Friday--his consulting farrier/repair expert Ian McKinlay isn't concerned.

"This is not a setback," he said late Wednesday. "What we were waiting for showed up today--the abscess (under the quarter crack) came out and drained. I could run my finger on it and feel that little hole, so now it's open and we can dry it out."

Big Brown's previous hoof problems were wall separations. This quarter crack is unrelated to those problems and isn't a big deal; quarter cracks are "common enough" in racing Thoroughbreds, McKinlay noted.

"Quarter cracks vary; either they're little splits that just happened or they've got a little pocket (of infection, an abscess) under them coming out," he explained. "They're easier when they're just little splits, but when they blow out (an abscess, like Big Brown's), it's OK too. (Wednesday) all the inflammation came out and the foot's cooling out beautifully."

The key with a quarter crack is to dry out exposed soft tissue before covering it with a patch. If moisture and infection is sealed under a patch, infection can grow and severe hoof damage can result. Big Brown's quarter crack has been treated regularly with a 5% iodine/alcohol solution to dry it out since Sunday, and this treatment will continue until the crack is patched (possibly Monday).

McKinlay laced the crack with wires and plates on Monday (May 26) to stabilize it, and today (Thursday) he said the quarter crack/abscess location had finally cooled down completely (the heat from inflammation subsided). Now he plans to start using a stronger drying solution, evaluate the feet again Saturday and make any necessary wire adjustments, and hopefully patch the dried crack area this Monday.

"He's wanting to go, he's jumping around and looking to get hurt because he's so full of himself," he noted. "He's jogged and galloped perfect, totally sound. Today (Thursday) when they trotted him, he looked like a dressage horse the way he was extending his feet. He just looks like a million bucks.

"I'm just waiting on them to turn this guy loose," he commented. "If something runs away from you that fast (as in the Preakness Stakes), how do you run it down?"

The world waits to see if anyone can answer that challenge--foot problems notwithstanding--at Belmont on June 7.

More on Big Brown's feet:

About the Author

Christy M. West

Christy West has a BS in Equine Science from the University of Kentucky, and an MS in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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