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Rich Strike's Owner Sues Hot Rod Charlie's Connections

Claim alleges Hot Rod Charlie won the Lukas Classic (G2) wearing illegal horseshoes.

Hot Rod Charlie (inside) and Rich Strike battle in the Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs

Hot Rod Charlie (inside) and Rich Strike battle in the Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs

Coady Photography

Rick Dawson, who owns 2022 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Rich Strike as RED TR-Racing, has filed a lawsuit seeking damages against connections of multi-millionaire Hot Rod Charlie based on an allegation the latter horse wore illegal toe grabs in edging Rich Strike in the Oct. 22 Lukas Classic Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs.

The suit, filed in Jefferson Circuit Court and signed by attorney Benjamin L. Carter, seeks the difference in first- and second-place money, $206,320, and damages for "the impact to Rich Strike's syndicate value."

The complaint, first reported by Horse Racing Nation, is based on a legal theory that defendants caused an "intentional interference with a valid expectancy" when "Hot Rod Charlie—not Rich Strike—won the...Lukas Classic Stakes by inches because of the traction device," allegedly on Hot Rod Charlie's front shoes. Dawson also seeks punitive damages.

No enforcement action was taken by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission or the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority after KHRC chief steward Barbara Borden reported sufficient evidence that Hot Rod Charlie raced in compliance with HISA rules. A follow-up decision by HISA agreed with those findings.

The suit names Hot Rod Charlie's trainer, Doug O'Neill, as a defendant along with the horse's racing owners, Roadrunner Racing 2018, Boat Racing, Strauss Brothers Racing, and Gainesway Thoroughbreds. This winter, the Oxbow  horse went to stud at Shadai Farm in Japan.

O'Neill denies Hot Rod Charlie raced with toe grabs, telling BloodHorse last month, "We ran him the way we were supposed to."