The Footwear of Fine Horses

Footwear of Fine Horses - CDT 1899.03.26

“Of all fads the one of collecting discarded shoes of famous horses is the least likely to be thought of, yet what could be more interesting to admirers of the well-bred animals than to have in one’s possession these mementos of the marvels of the equine world.

… “It will not, of course, surprise experienced turfmen,” continued [William “Knapsack”] McCarthy, “to learn that, while Firenzi [Firenze] has the largest foot shown, it is the most perfect, the size being a full 5 inches by 5 inches, every line and curve indicating the gentle disposition and good temper of the peerless mare of her time – a mare kissed on the velvet nose in full sight of the grand stand after one of her victories by a prominent bookmaker who had ‘skinned the lamb’ i.e. not had a cent against her.”

In contradistinction is the plate which shows the shape of the foot of Little Minch, the worst rogue in turfdom. Speedy as the wind, when he pleased, he would delay starts for hours, until last season at Brighton Beach it used to be bulletined that he would be left at the post the second even break. His foot is longer than it is broad, and instead of the heels curving gracefully round they are carried almost straight, something like a donkey foot.

The plate of Tammany much resembles that of Firenzi, being perfectly balanced, with a dimension of 4 ½ inches, but not with the same heels. Montana has somewhat of the same foot, but always wore a heelplate, which detracted from its evenness, same as a man with a clubfoot. Salvator has a foot along the same lines, but a trifle narrower, almost making a circle if the heel points were eliminated, showing – so say the experts – marvelous speed qualities and possibilities, which, had the two historic horses ever met, would have resulted in the lowering of the Tammany colors to the unbeaten horse of his time.

Sir Matthew, that showy but weedy horse of the Marcus Daly string, had a plate as cranky and irrational as the running of the horse.

Montana’s plate is all dented at the toe, caused by the terrible drive under Garrison for the Suburban of 1892, favorite at 2 to 1 when he was practically left twenty lengths at the start and slowly made up the distance only to stagger home in front and by good for nothing ever after as far as racing went.

A Domino plate is also badly worn at the toe, due to the way he hammered and propped himself coming down a hill, the shape being a mixture of Tammany and Kingston. There is nothing to be said about Domino; everyone loved the horse and admired him, for he was the ‘gentleman’ of the track. Even if Henry of Navarre could beat him out in the match race, the sympathies of the crowd were, before and after the race, with the fleet black, whom Jim Keene loved well enough to bury like a hero and keep his memory green with a handsome tombstone.

Fordham, the get off in front and see me no more sprinter, has much the same foot, and many are the arguments pro and con which these two plates bring to the surface among the men who love a horse.  …”
(Chicago Daily Tribune, 03/26/1899)


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