11/04/2013 2:15PM

Santa Anita: Quarter cracks a common problem for horsemen

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Barbara D. Livingston
Caracortado was one of several horses scratched from the Breeders' Cup with hoof problems.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The quarter crack that prevented Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Ron the Greek from starting in Saturday’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic is a frequent concern for Southern California trainers.

Several local trainers interviewed Sunday said they deal with quarter cracks regularly.

“I probably only have four,” trainer Bill Spawr said, shaking his head in frustration.

Spawr has a 30-horse stable.

Quarter cracks are breaks in a hoof that can cause painful instability or infections. Patches can be applied to a quarter crack to allow a horse to train and race, but those patches do not always hold, resulting in further damage.

Trainers say some horses are prone to quarter cracks and that rest is often the best remedy. Firm racing surfaces can play a factor. Many Southern California trainers consider the main track at Santa Anita to be such a surface.

On a given day, it is not uncommon to stand at the gap between the barn area and racetrack, or watch horses cool out in the stables, and see a horse walk by with a patched quarter crack.

In Spawr’s opinion, Santa Anita’s main track plays a role. He argues the surface has too much sand.

“It dries them out,” he said of how the surface can effect horses’ hooves.

Spawr said conditions can vary from track to track. He praised the surface at Barretts Sales and Racing in Pomona, Calif., as being kind on feet each summer.

“I have a little more here” than at Del Mar, he said of quarter cracks in general. “At Pomona, they get better there. A lot of guys with sore feet will go to Pomona and get sound again.”

Other trainers said privately that quarter cracks can be persistent problems for some horses.

Tim Grande, the California Horse Racing Board veterinarian, spends race mornings inspecting the day’s runners, an assignment he shares with track veterinarian Dana Stead. Grande said that horses are seldom scratched because of quarter cracks since trainers often have made that decision themselves.

“Of the horses we end up scratching, we don’t see many” quarter cracks, he said.

Grande said the confirmation of an individual horse can contribute to the presence of quarter cracks. He said trainers often use a three-quarter shoe, which leaves a portion of the heel exposed, as a way to continue training a horse with a quarter crack.

Ron the Greek’s quarter crack was detected Thursday morning, three days after he arrived from New York. Wednesday, trainer Bill Mott detected a bruise in a heel caused by an abscess. The injury was too close to the race for Ron the Greek to be treated and make the race.

Foot ailments caused the late withdrawal of two other runners from Breeders’ Cup races. Friday morning, Taptowne was withdrawn from the BC Dirt Mile because of a “slight bruised foot,” trainer Tim Glyshaw said.

Caracortado was withdrawn from Saturday’s BC Turf Sprint on race morning after an abscess was detected in his right front foot, trainer Mike Machowsky told Breeders’ Cup officials. Machowsky hopes to have Caracortado ready for the $100,000 Hollywood Turf Express on Dec. 8.

At the start of Breeders’ Cup week, trainer Todd Pletcher said that Graydar would not travel from New York after he developed a quarter crack while training on that circuit. Graydar had been pre-entered in the BC Dirt Mile and Classic.

BigSkyEquine More than 1 year ago
Quarter cracks are a result of a lack of abundant daily locomotion. Hoof health for stabled racehorses is dependent on miles of daily walking. This same walking enhances pulmonary and limb soundness. Unfortunately, the trainers fail to adequately care for their horses, in large part due to their dependence on pre-race medication. Many horses are stall bound for up to 23 hours a day, while they evolved to walk and move on a near constant basis. Quarter cracks in the California racehorse population is reflective of substandard care.
ironfarmers More than 1 year ago
Sorry I am confused how do you get quarters when you are on such smooth surfaces. I would think they only come about when your horse is on rough rocky paddocks where an object has cut into the hoof????
ironfarmers More than 1 year ago
I do not understand how you get quarter cracks on such beautiful smooth surfaces. Unless your horse is running on open rocky paddocks where a sharp object cuts I find this difficult to understand
William Kelley More than 1 year ago
The problem isn't they added and particularly in stretch but they used regular sand (crushed rock) . Instead of using river bottom sand. this is the cause of the extreme kick back which gives the horses on front end an advantage.
Walter More than 1 year ago
It's easy to blame "hard surfaces". But dirt tracks have been around for so many years. Great horses (Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Affirmed, to name a few) ran on these surfaces and never saw a synthetic surface in their lives. Synthetic surfaces cause many other problems. Joints, soft tissue, hip, & back problems. Also, has anyone investigated what this garbage does to a horses lungs? I'm sure breathing in rubber, plastic, petroleum, and whatever else is in those synthetics cannot be good. We wouldn't want to breathe it, I presume horses don't either.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Hard tracks produces all kinds of hoof problems and joint problems too..like most things in life its a trade off,fast times due to surface cracks due to surface.
Craig More than 1 year ago
Hey baffert, is that concrete better than the synthetic surface??? What a shame and crime they let baffert and his dirt bred horses ruin horses and Cal. Racing!
Mark D More than 1 year ago
I have a crazy idea. How breeders don't breed to horses with a history of quarter cracks?!?!? Lets try to improve the breed, not allow unsound horses pass these flaws to future generations. Call me crazy.
Ceil Rock More than 1 year ago
A.P. Indy was plagued by quarter cracks during his career.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
seriously!..breed to prevent quarter cracks?..i guess northern dancer and ap indy would not see the breeding shed if you were in charge.lucky for us that's not the case. how about not racing on cement. Maybe that would help.
Mark D More than 1 year ago
Did you know that 50 percent of AP Indy's offspring never make it to the races. Sure they are fast....but no sounder then the rest. Comparing crippled horses with other crippled horses not exaclty smart.
Nathan More than 1 year ago
northern dancer had to have 1/4 crack worked on before he won the derby. nothing has changed.
Mark D More than 1 year ago
I bet he did....right after they stuck that 5 inch needle in him to numb the pain.
Quite A Dude More than 1 year ago
No question a hard surface will add pressure to the hoof walls. Some horses are predisposed to quarter cracks despite the surface. So it's a two fold problem..