Late on a recent Saturday night, I turned on the History Channel’s highly popular “Pawn Stars” television show that features the trials and tribulations of the “World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop” in Las Vegas.
Most of the pawn shop’s customers bring in a variety of vintage and antique items to the store, which keeps about 12,000 items in inventory. Run by three generations of the Harrison family (Rick, dad Richard and Rick’s son Corey), a typical 30-minute television show looks at five or six antique items.
I was about to turn off the TV and go to sleep when a gentleman walked up to the counter with an aluminum horseshoe that had supposedly been worn by Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Along with the shoe that is at least 40 years, there was a handwritten note from Secretariat owner Penny Chenery stating that the famous horse had definitely worn the shoe. However, Chenery urged the recipient of the shoe and note not to tell others, as she didn’t want to have to deal with hundreds of similar requests for a shoe from the 1973 Triple Crown winner that is ranked as one of the greatest Thoroughbreds of all time.
Living to 19 years of age, the horse raced for 2 years and earned $1,316,808 in 41 races. As a 3-year-old, he set new track records in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in winning the 1973 Triple Crown. He went on to sire 653 foals, including 57 horses that later became stakes winners.
As is the case with many items brought into the Las Vegas pawn shop, Rick told the customer that he had no idea about the value of the shoe. So he called in an expert to validate the shoe’s background and come up with an estimated value.
The expert pointed out that Secretariat wore aluminum shoes for racing and that he would have likely worn steel shoes back on the farm. While the aluminum shoe had a considerable amount of wear, you could still make out the Thoro’Bred name.
After evaluating the authenticity of the shoe, the signature of owner Penny Chenery in the accompanying note and not being able to determine a particular race when the shoe had been worn, the expert placed a value of $2,000 on the shoe. He also pointed out that if there was proof that the shoe had been worn during one of Secretariat’s three 1973 Triple Crown races, the value would jump to $4,500.
So if you’ve got any old horseshoes sitting around in a corner of your farrier shop that have some history and nostalgia value, don’t be so quick to toss them out.