Shoegate: Fed authority still may take action in Lukas Classic

Shoegate: Fed authority still may take action in Lukas Classic
Photo: Jenny Doyle / Eclipse Sportswire

Three months after saying it would consider the Shoegate case involving Hot Rod Charlie, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority said Thursday afternoon it still might take action.

“The HISA enforcement team has undertaken an extensive review of the relevant materials over the last several months,” a HISA spokesperson said in an email. “The enforcement team’s recommendation to the HISA board on whether or not to take any further action or review is forthcoming.”

RELATED: Why has there been no Shoegate hearing?

The statement came in response to a Horse Racing Nation request for comment after Rick Dawson, the owner of Rich Strike, wondered why there had been no action since Oct. 31. That was when a HISA lawyer said Dawson’s appeal would be considered.

The case centers on the Oct. 1 running of the Lukas Classic (G2) at Churchill Downs, where Hot Rod Charlie defeated Rich Strike by a head. In the days after the race, enlarged photos appeared to show Hot Rod Charlie had raced with illegal toe grabs on his front hooves.

Hot Rod Charlie’s trainer Doug O’Neill denied it, and after an investigation by Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards, it was decided there was no violation. HISA endorsed that conclusion.

Dawson and his Kentucky attorney Barry Hunter filed a formal appeal in October, introducing more photographic and forensic evidence. The case has not had any public action since.

“If we as horse owners can expect little or no action by HISA, then why wait for them to do little if anything?” Dawson said in a statement to HRN. “For myself and I suspect other owners, in the future I will consider filing (a) complaint with HISA (and the) local horse-racing commission simultaneously with the appropriate court.”

Even if there were to be a disqualification of Hot Rod Charlie, HISA also might consider the contact Rich Strike’s jockey Sonny León’s action in making its final decision. Blaming a loose saddle, León leaned hard into Hot Rod Charlie’s jockey Tyler Gaffalione in the stretch drive. KHRC stewards suspended León for 15 racing days last fall.

Hot Rod Charlie was retired to a stud farm in Japan. Rich Strike returned to training last month with next month’s Dubai World Cup (G1) being his target.

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