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For many enthusiasts, the 1930s ushered in a golden age of American Thoroughbred racing. As this era began, the Victory Racing Plate Company took shape to deliver aluminum shoes to this market. The growth of Victory’s influence on horse-racing has depended on a combination of development and consistently delivering what racetrack shoers need.
Victory began with the resourcefulness of Leonard Liepman, a real estate attorney from Baltimore, Md. In 1926, while at Woodbine Racetrack near Toronto, Ontario, Liepman watched horses that ran on a lightweight, but flimsy, aluminum-based shoe imported from Europe.
He had his farrier nail the shoes on his Thoroughbred Signola. While the improved times from the horse were encouraging, Liepman found the shoes’ flimsiness unappealing — after one race the plates needed to be replaced.
Liepman began to think about starting a line of aluminum-based shoes. Being located in an industrial city, he approached local foundries to develop a prototype, but was rejected because of flaws in his notion of manufacturing a shoe forged with aluminum and steel.
Liepman worked with ALCOA to develop an alloy that would withstand the punishment of a racehorse. Eventually he designed a shoe in which a steel insert would be forged into an aluminum shoe, locking into place and increasing the shoe’s life. With this shoe, he founded the Victory Racing Plate Company and began production in 1929.
When he took his plates to the racetrack, Liepman found resistance from shoers. They were accustomed to forging steel racing…