Updated on 09/17/2011 10:34AM

Special shoes for problem feet

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Atswhatimtalknbout has had a recurrence of some foot troubles that first surfaced last winter at Santa Anita.

Ron Ellis can empathize with people who are about to go on stage on Broadway and whisper to themselves, "Feet, don't fail me now."

Ellis trains Atswhatimtalknbout, who was a fast-finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby and was kept out of the Preakness Stakes to point for the 135th Belmont Stakes on June 7 at Belmont Park. Atswhatimtalknbout, who remained at Churchill Downs after the Derby, is scheduled to leave for New York the week of the Belmont. His status, however, has a bit of cloud cover. Ellis on Friday said Atswhatimtalknbout has had a recurrence of some foot troubles that first surfaced last winter at Santa Anita.

The problem is relatively minor, Ellis said, and he expressed confidence that Atswhatimtalknbout would get through this hiccup and compete in the Belmont. But Ellis cautioned that if Atswhatimtalknbout does not progress satisfactorily over the next few days, he would pull the colt from consideration for the Belmont. A.P. Indy, the sire of Atswhatimtalknbout, won the Belmont in 1992.

"The next couple of days are important," Ellis said from Churchill Downs. "He can't miss a work and then run. I won't do that to him."

Atswhatimtalknbout is scheduled to work Tuesday at Churchill Downs. He had his most recent work last Tuesday at Churchill, when he went six furlongs in 1:16.20. Ellis returned to California, where he lives, that afternoon. But on Wednesday, Paul McGee - a Kentucky-based trainer who is looking after Atswhatimtalknbout and is also Ellis's brother-in-law - phoned Ellis and told him Atswhatimtalknbout had some heat on the inside quarter of his right front hoof.

So, Ellis returned to Churchill late Thursday, and brought along noted farrier Wes Champagne. Champagne outfitted Atswhatimtalknbout with a pair of bar shoes that have a plastic strip, rather than a metal plate, across the back part of the hoof for the bar portion of the shoe.

Ellis used similar shoes on Atswhatimtalknbout for part of the winter at Santa Anita, but Atswhatimtalknbout had not worn those shoes since just prior to the Santa Anita Derby on April 5.

"He did so well with them this winter," Ellis said. "Every once in a while he would bruise a quarter. He just has the shoes on his front feet. He just needs the shoe on his right front this time around, but we put them on both feet to even him out.

"We started using them when he would grab a quarter to prevent it developing into a quarter crack. He grabbed a quarter on his left side this winter, but it grew down and never became a problem. I think with getting these shoes back on, he will be fine."

Ellis said Atswhatimtalknbout is scheduled to work twice between now and the Belmont. He said Atswhatimtalknbout would wear these bar shoes through his final scheduled workout, on June 2, and that he would be outfitted with conventional racing plates on June 3, before he travels to New York.

"He will have these shoes on for about 10 days," Ellis said.

Ellis said Atswhatimtalknbout originally was scheduled to go back to the track on Thursday after his Tuesday workout, but he did not train either Thursday or Friday. Ellis expected Atswhatimtalknbout to return to the track to train on Saturday.

Ellis likened this setback to what trainer Bobby Frankel faced with Empire Maker the week of the Kentucky Derby. Empire Maker finished second as the Derby favorite.

"Luckily for us, it's not the week of the race," Ellis said.

"He's walking fine," Ellis added. "He's fit enough. All I need to do is get him feeling good, and he's been feeling so good I've been afraid to take him out and graze him. He has gotten a chance to recharge."

In other Belmont developments:

* Funny Cide, the Derby and Preakness winner, had another 1 1/2-mile jog the wrong way around Belmont Park's rain-soaked main track on Friday. He went out at 5:30 a.m. "I didn't want to get caught in the rain," trainer Barclay Tagg said. "The track is horrible."

* Dynever, the winner of the Lone Star Derby, had his Friday workout at Belmont postponed to Sunday or Monday because of the muddy conditions.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson