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Toes Grabs and TVG



A recent article in the Thoroughbred Times stated that Canterbury Park was among tracks in five states where toe grabs on horses had been banned.

Not true.

But on Friday night a law went into effect at Canterbury restricting the size of toe grabs on the front shoes of horses.

The rules committee of the Minnesota Racing Commission began working on the issue last autumn and passed the rule in March.

Specifically, the regulation is worded thusly:
“Toe grabs with a height greater than four millimeters worn on the front shoes of horses while flat racing on any track surface or condition are prohibited.”

Minnesota previously did not have a rule covering toe grabs.

The rule now in effect was adopted from the model advised by Racing Commissioners International and is intended to prevent injuries to the tendons and ligaments of horses with large toe grabs. It is thought that toe grabs can create an imbalance in the horse that puts additional stress on the muscular structure. Some horsemen argue that the toe grabs actually prevent injuries of that type because they prevent horses from slipping.

Nonetheless, the law went into effect on Friday and generated some controversy among horsemen who said they hadn’t been made aware of the rule until this week. In some cases horsemen had their horses re-shod with toe grabs in the last few days.

“The biggest complaint (from trainers) is that nobody knew about it,” said Tom Metzen, president of the Minnesota HBPA. “And they weren’t given enough time.”

Trainer Jerry Livingston said he wasn’t affected because the rule was put into effect in New Mexico last year and he’s kept the same shoes on his horses since.

“I’m not saying that the rule isn’t right,” said Livingston. “But it wasn’t gone about right. I had no idea till Sunday about the rule. I feel bad for the guys with shoes on that don’t meet the rules. The rule went into effect last July 1 in New Mexico, but they didn’t start checking on it there until September.”

It wasn’t certain how violations will be dealt with heading into Friday’s card.

“We’re leaving that up to the (racing) stewards,” said Dick Krueger, executive director of the Minnesota Racing Commission.

Livingston wondered if some horses might be scratched from races.

“A number of horses were scratched at the Zia Park meet,” he said. “And there was probably one a week at Sunland Park.


The 2008 Claiming Crown got a boost on Friday when it was made public that TVG will provide live coverage of the event on Aug. 2.

Management was optimistic about the arrangement it made with the network. TVG televised the Claiming Crown in Shakopee on two previous occasions and Canterbury benefited both times.

“It’s not only the day of coverage but the promotion leading up to the Claiming Crown during the week prior,” said Eric Halstrom, vice president of racing operations. “They’ll have 10 promo spots a day pumping up the event.”

In addition, TVG will do its Saturday show from Canterbury. “They’ll be showing all our races live, focusing the day on Canterbury. We’re excited to have them, that’s for sure,” Halstrom added.

Canterbury will pay a fee to TVG for the telecast but Halstrom sees that as a good investment when previous returns are considered. TVG patrons typically wager about $20,000 daily on Canterbury racing. That number increased to $200,000 when TVG televised the card in the past. There is no way to determine how much additional is wagered at other internet sites by people watching the Claiming Crown on TVG, but Halstrom said he’ll get some idea when he compares the total internet wagering to previous figures.

TVG is the official TV and interactive wagering partner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

TVG hosts Matt Carothers and Ken Rudulph will provide day-long coverage of the Claiming Crown and surrounding activities. “We are delighted to have TVG back in 2008 as the exclusive television provider of Claiming Crown,” said event chairman Dan Metzger.

HR TV televised the Claiming Crown at Canterbury in 2005 with mixed reviews.

Canterbury president/CEO Randy Sampson was enthusiastic about the arrangement with TVG.
“Claiming Crown is the single, biggest day on our racing calendar, and we are pleased that TVG will be on hand to do its usual first-rate job of showcasing it to a national audience,” Sampson said. ”Matt Carothers is a Minneapolis native who started his horse racing career at Canterbury Park in 1994, and our fans are always excited to see Matt return here with his TVG colleagues.”

Canterbury has presented all but two of the previous Claiming Crowns. Despite a financial loss for that privilege each time, management says that there are other benefits, additional recognition among horsemen and the national racing community as well as an introduction to many fans previously unfamiliar with the Minnesota track”We know it brings horsemen here, for all or part of the meet,” Halstrom said. “And there are plenty of other things beside the bottom line. Last year we noticed that without the Claiming Crown there was some diminished ability to recruit (stables) and other parts of that process were more difficult too.”