Does A Z Bar Shoe Spell Derby Doom For Girvin? Not Necessarily

News this week that Kentucky Derby contender Girvin's repeatedly delayed workout schedule is due to a quarter crack the colt incurred last week has many fans and handicappers rearranging their tickets to leave him off. The Daily Racing Form's observation a day prior of Z bar shoes on both the colt's front feet had already raised concerns, but the shoes and the foot condition don't necessarily guarantee the horse is preparing to throw a clunker.

As we've detailed before on the Paulick Report, quarter cracks are a relatively common ailment in Thoroughbreds, and can occur as a function of conformation or hoof shape. The crack appears as an up-and-down fissure, typically emanating from the coronary band at the top of the hoof and located on the ‘quarter' or one side of the foot (as opposed to the toe).

The crack can cause discomfort for a couple of days until a therapeutic shoe can be placed to alleviate pressure from the injured area. After that, horses are usually able to continue training and racing with special shoes and as long as the crack is stabilized. From there, it's just a matter of waiting for the damaged part of the hoof to grow out.

Girvin's quarter crack is in his right front foot, according to trainer Joe Sharp, although the colt had Z bar shoes on both front feet earlier this week. Dr. Eric Redden, podiatrist and veterinarian practicing in Central Kentucky, said it's not unheard of for a horse to experience bruising or quarter cracks in more than one foot at a time.

Bilateral medial quarter bruising [bruising in quarters of both feet] does occur quite often and most always precedes the quarter crack, as the internal bruising results in hemorrhage and serum leakage that invariably weakens the laminae bond between the wall and very flexible lateral cartilage,” said Redden.

Egg bar shoes are one of the most common options for a horse dealing with a quarter crack. These shoes go all the way around the edge of the foot, rather than leaving the heels open as traditional horseshoes do. The heel of the shoe gives concussive forces from each footstep a greater surface area to travel over, reducing pressure on one area.

Z bars operate with a similar idea, but they refocus more of that added surface area under the frog, the triangular part of the hoof that acts as a shock absorber on unshod feet.

“Z bar shoes can be very helpful especially when the shoe is designed and applied to shift load from the quarter to the frog,” said Redden. “Having a super tough frog and keeping the hoof tough and durable greatly enhances the benefits of the Z bar.”

Sharp said Girvin was switched from Z bars to a custom bar shoe engineered by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's Dr. Raul Bras on Tuesday.

If Girvin goes to the post with one or two bar shoes, he will hardly be the first graded stakes horse to do battle with a quarter crack in the face of a big race. In 1996, Unbridled's Song was fitted with a bar shoe the week of the Derby after a quarter crack he suffered in the April 13 Wood Memorial worsened. The Lukas trainee initially had a patch and bar shoe, which provided temporary relief until the week of the race. Farrier Steve Norman applied a Z bar shoe to provide temporary relief, before switching to egg bars for the first Saturday in May. The colt finished fifth.

Northern Dancer won the Remsen in a bar shoe designed to support a worsening quarter crack suffered the previous month.

As far as bad feet in a broader context, Touch Gold won the 1997 Belmont with a patched foot, although his injury was a grabbed quarter rather than a quarter crack.

Big Brown ran in the 2008 Belmont Stakes a few days after suffering a quarter crack (albeit, not well, as he was pulled up before the finish).

For others, a quarter crack can linger, or cause a horse to miss enough training to skip a planned start. A.P. Indy, Dortmund, Shared Belief, Quality Road, Bayern, Graydar, Ron the Greek, and Ivan Fallunovalot all defected from graded stakes over the years because of a last-minute quarter crack.

The injury has come at an especially bad time for Girvin with respect to his training schedule. Sharp had told reporters last week the colt would have two works before the Kentucky Derby – one April 15 and one Saturday. Although the Daily Racing Form indicates he has taken the horse for swims at Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine And Rehabilitation Center near Keeneland, he will go into the Derby with just two official works since March 26, and that's assuming he turns in the second move.   

The post Does A Z Bar Shoe Spell Derby Doom For Girvin? Not Necessarily appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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