After discussions with industry participants and a review of all scientific research available on the use of toe grabs on the front shoes of Thoroughbreds, The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Safety Committee recommends adjusting the current RCI Model Rule on horse shoes to allow toe grabs up to four millimeters in height on front shoes on dirt racing surfaces only.
The committee’s recommendation comes on the heels of the Delaware Racing Commission’s decision to adopt an emergency regulation June 23 allowing for the four millimeter toe grabs. The track was the first to adopt an emergency exception to the committee's original recommendation of toe grabs up to two millimeters after noticing an unusually high number of horses stumbling at the start during the first month of its meet.
The Thoroughbred Safety Committee believes the current elimination of traction devices on front shoes should be maintained and only the height of the toe grab should be adjusted in the Model Rule. In no case does the Thoroughbred Safety Committee recommend the use of toe grabs of greater than four millimeters on front shoes of Thoroughbreds.
The Thoroughbred Safety Committee continues to believe the recommendation limiting traction devices on front shoes of Thoroughbreds to toe grabs no greater than two millimeters is in the best interests of the welfare and safety of the horse.
However, the Thoroughbred Safety Committee is sensitive to the concerns of the horsemen and recognizes local circumstances such as dirt track composition and/or weather conditions might justify the racing commission and/or the racetrack to allow horsemen the discretion to utilize short toe grabs no greater than four millimeters on the front shoes of Thoroughbreds on dirt racing surfaces only.