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The horseshoes worn by racehorses are called racing plates and the term ‘to spread a plate’ refers to when a shoe becomes detached from the animal’s hoof requiring a new one to be put on – or re-shod.
The horses wear special racing plates to protect their feet from the extensive damage their hooves would experience if they were not worn.
If a racehorse spreads a plate before a race it can have a big effect on the running of the meeting as they will need to be re-shod and that can cause fairly lengthy delays. As well as changing the preparation time for the other horses and jockeys it also gives bettors more time to make their selections. Their choice may even be altered if they believe that the horse being re-shod will be adversely affected by wearing new plates.
Although other pieces of racing gear – such as blinkers and bridles – will affect racehorses to a greater extent there are many bettors who will be put off picking a horse who is racing in bar plates.
Although they are worn to help shift pressure from the heel of the foot, there is a perception that when worn they produce lower success rates and fewer wins. A horse that is switching back to standard plates may be one to watch however.
Years and years of tactical breeding has led to many thoroughbred lines having relatively small feet in comparison to their large body size. This can have an effect on their ability to run and also requires quality farrier work to keep the horse in top condition.