Did Hot Rod Charlie wear illegal horseshoes during the running of the Grade 2 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs? Race stewards, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), and Hot Rod Charlie’s team say no, but the second-place finisher isn’t so sure.
Rick Dawson and Eric Reed, Rich Strike’s owner and trainer, respectively, are appealing the decision by HISA that the front shoes worn by Hot Rod Charlie are legal, Horse Racing Nation reports.
“At this point, I have requested my attorney that’s very familiar with the upcoming appeals process to go forward with this action and our pursuit of the truth,” according to a statement by Reed and Dawson that was texted to Horse Racing Nation.
Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards examining photographs of Hot Rod Charlie during the racing asked farrier Dean Balut why it appeared the horse’s left foot had toe grabs on race day but was not wearing them after in the barn.
“That foot and the way that appears to look like a toe grab, I can’t comment on that,” he told stewards in an interview obtained by Horse Racing Nation’s Freedom of Information Act request. “That just seems like a bad angle or some sort of shadow. The picture … where they have the foot front from the front view, if you take a look at the foot or the shoe itself, you’ll see almost an upside-down, smile shape. His shoes were so worn because they were 30 days and he paws a little bit, … that he possibly could have worn all the way back that the toe that’s inserted inside [the shoe] could have been showing. The shoe was regulation. There was no traction device, no toe grab below the shoe.”
Balut’s explanation seemed to correspond with the stewards’ inspection.
“We’ve examined the shoe on the horse’s foot since then and that makes sense,” a steward said in response.
Balut shod Hot Rod Charlie on Aug. 30 with a size 6 Kerckhaert Tradition XT with the toe grab ground to flush with the shoe, he told stewards.
“Kerckhaert did not have a shoe that was HISA compliant [before Aug. 30],” Balut said in a video statement to KHRC investigators. “What we did was ground the shoe, the toe grab, prior to coming to Kentucky to put the shoes on Charlie. So, those shoes were completely flush at the toe with no toe grabs.”
HISA rule 2276 prohibits using toe grabs or any traction device on the front shoes.