- Ian McKinlay is Richard Dutrow's hoof guru, and arguably the most important man in racing right now as he seeks to make Big Brown's quarter crack go away in time for him to be ready for the Belmont.
McKinlay said he has dealt with far more serious foot troubles, and on the eve of major races. He treated Touch Gold for a badly torn hoof before he won the 1997 Belmont and aided River Keen before he took the 1999 Jockey Club Gold Cup. "River Keen was dead lame the day before the race and I fixed it up," he said. [Newsday]He told the Form: "Unless I make some boneheaded move this will be a walk in the park." Sounds as if these two guys get along just fine, doesn't it? McKinlay has a website on which you can learn everything you need to know about quarter cracks, including a video (scroll down, bottom right) with a graphic demonstration of the treatment (on the harness horse Mr. Feelgood).
Dutrow tried to assure the press that he's not concerned; and in fact said that the horse would "kick butt" even if the race was today. But an observer at the press conference told me that he seemed most definitely concerned. We of course have no way to know how the horse feels, nor how that foot will be faring in that last quarter mile in which we've seen so many Triple Crown aspirations melt away. I think that keeping a close eye on Dutrow's demeanor may be as good a way as any to gauge the horse's true condition.
In the meantime, I'm thinking that it's time to start taking a look at the other contenders in search of any possible Birdstones in the field. For me, that does not include Casino Drive, who I wouldn't bet here under any circumstances, if only out of the principle that virtually unraced horses can't come here and beat the best three-year olds we have, as little as that might be saying in this particular year. I think it would make a mockery of the sport here, and personally, I'd rather see Richard Dutrow on the cover of Sports Illustrated as its Sportsman of the Year than to see that horse in the winners circle on June 7.