A Day At The Spa: Aug. 18, Shoeing Octave

In the stable yard in front of Todd Pletcher’s main shedrow, blacksmith Ray Amato is fitting Octave with a new pair of racing plates in preparation for her start in this afternoon’s Alabama (gr. I). The gray filly stands draped in a black blanket, four white bandages encasing her delicate legs. Her ears slump sideways, eyelids droop at half-mast. She yawns and rests, quietly at ease.

It is cool on the backside this morning, almost crisp, and a steady breeze ruffles the filly’s ashen tail. Four photographers walk up, find their angles, start snapping. At the camera clicks, Octave’s ears pop up. She opens her eyes, lifts her head, strikes a pose.

“I wish they’d all stand like this,” Amato says. “She’s a good girl.”

Nearly finished, he pulls an old training shoe off the filly’s right forefoot and cradles the hoof in his hands. The white sole is trimmed carefully, just right. A shiny aluminum racing plate is fitted to the surface. Amato taps nails into the hoof wall and lifts the filly’s foot to rest in front of her on a narrow stand. He runs a file over the outside of the hoof, then sets it down. It’s a nice pedicure.

She’s ready to run.

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