Kentucky Racing Group Approves Toe Grab Horseshoe Ban

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission July 14 unanimously approved regulations that would prohibit the use of horseshoes with toe grabs on front feet of horses racing in the state.

The regulation, which still must go through a public comment period and be approved by an interim legislative committee, was recommended by the commission's health and safety committee. It bans toe grabs in excess of two millimeters.

During discussion of the dangers posed by toe grabs, which effectively improve traction and keep horses' hooves from sliding when they contact the racing surface, retired jockey Chris McCarron noted that the shoes "are the single biggest reason why horses fall when they clip heels."

Foster Northrop, DVM, a member of the commission and an equine veterinarian, said toe grabs lead to cannon bone injuries. Northrup said he has, "tried to get my clients to quit using them for years."

Also approved to go through the public comment and legislative approval process were sweeping changes in Thoroughbred and Standardbred regulations, including an increase in licensing fees. The fees, which commission executive director Lisa Underwood said had not been raised since 2002, would go from $100 to $150 annually for Thoroughbred owners, trainers, assistant trainers, exercise riders, and veterinarians. The license fee would be $125 for Standardbred drivers, trainers, trainer/drivers, and assistants.

Also during the meeting, chief steward John Veitch reported that trainer Steve Asmussen was fined $250 by Churchill Downs stewards for using abusive language toward an official. Veitch said Asmussen used profanity when talking to an assistant starter in connection with the trainer's successful effort to get a starter of his preference to load Pyro into the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby.

The commission also met in closed executive session for about 90 minutes to discuss ongoing litigation, but no official action was taken and no one could say what the meeting concerned.

(Originally published at  

About the Author

Ron Mitchell/The Horse

Ron Mitchell is Online Managing Editor for The Blood-Horse magazine. A Lexington native, Mitchell joined The Blood-Horse after serving in editorial capacities with The Thoroughbred Record and Thoroughbred Times, specializing in business and auction aspects of the industry, and was editor-in-chief of the award-winning Horsemen’s Journal. As online managing editor, Mitchell works closely with The Blood-Horse news editor and other departments to make sure the website content is the most thorough and accurate source for all Thoroughbred news, results, videos, and data.

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