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HRN Original Blog:
Around the Oval with Melaina Phipps

Belmont Beyond the Backstretch, Part 1

During my first few days at Belmont Park I spent a lot of time just exploring. For those of you who haven't visited the backstretch here, for every barn there is an assigned cottage or two. Mostly they are used as trainers' offices. Some of them are used as dorm rooms for backstretch employees. One morning I peered through the paned windows of a padlocked cottage and discovered this treasure trove. The structure houses what looks to be an old farrier's shop with tools and kiln left to collect dust. 

 

 

I have no idea who once worked in this cottage, and have yet to find someone who can tell me. Did Belmont have its own "house farrier"? Was it rented out to one of the regular blacksmiths that work here? Maybe the cottage was assigned to a trainer who was also skilled as a farrier and liked to do his own shoeing?

 

 

Maybe it isn't even an old farrier's shop--maybe a leathersmith worked there making tack. I'll admit I'm not at all familiar with the all of uses for all of the visible tools. 

 

So what it comes down to is that I haven't the faintest idea of who once worked here or what they did, but I'm asking around. If you know anything about this workshop, I welcome you to share it in a comment. In the meantime, I'll keep you posted on what I learn.

 

 

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Older Comments about Belmont Beyond the Backstretch, Part 1...

Last race track to run clockwise
There are so many interesting looking buildings on the BEL backstretch. Lots of history there.
  • MBPhipps · The barns themselves are historic too! It's really neat to get to explore back here!! · 1032 days ago
I was amazed to see the change in lay out from the 1965 reconstruction. They used to have a diagonal chute from abour the area of the backstretch chute running dagonally directly TOWARD the fans...A sprint surface, Native Dancer broke a track record over it.

Meet Melaina Phipps

I came to horseracing only about a decade ago. (And no, I am no relation to the celebrated racing family of the same name.) My equine interests prior to that began, as they do for most young girls, with riding lessons and horse shows, and ended up with me playing polo while a graduate student at UVA and thereafter. It was entirely unexpected that I should spend time on the backstretch at Saratoga in the summer and on the rail at Payson Park in Florida in the winter watching some of the best trainers and horses in the country work. But that’s where I found myself and where my interest in this wild ride of an industry took shape. I don’t exercise racehorses; I don’t work with a trainer.  I watch, I listen, I ask a lot of questions, and I learn.  I enjoy supporting equine charities. Sometimes I bet a little.

I leave the handicapping and serious race talk and examination to those more knowledgeable than I. What I’d like to share through Around the Oval are some of the myriad observations, stories, histories, events, charities, places, and personalities that make up the variegated landscape of the Thoroughbred racing industry. If you find any—or all—of it interesting, please leave comments. Have any particular interests you’d like to read about? Send word—suggestions are more than welcome! 




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