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Last summer, The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Safety Committee (TSC) based on recommendations from the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Shoeing and Hoof Care Committee recommended that toe grabs on the fronts of racing Thoroughbreds longer than 2 mm should be banned. After that announcement, several state racing commissions adapted the TSC recommendation.
On July 22, 2009, again on the recommendation of the Welfare and Safety Committee, The Jockey Club announced an alteration to this previous advisement by allowing the maximum length of toe grabs on the fronts to be 4 mm on dirt surfaces. The TSC stated that although it still believes that toe grabs of 2 mm or less are still in the best interest of the horse’s well-being, there are variables that came into play to make this modification.
“There were a couple of reasons we made the announcement,” says Dan Fick, The Jockey Club’s executive vice president and executive director. “First, horsemen, particularly those on the East Coast, expressed concerns that certain track compositions and local weather conditions, especially when the track becomes sloppy, needed the longer low toe on the front shoes of the horses. We went back and looked at the existing research we had and we came to the conclusion that most of the post-mortem research was out of California with Dr. Sue Stover from the early '90s. The West Coast track surfaces were predominately clay, while East Coast tracks have a higher sand content. This concern came even more to the forefront…