California Invader Hot Rod Charlie Scores Front-End Victory In Louisiana Derby

Second at 94-1 odds in last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and third in his 3-year-old debut in the G3 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita, Hot Rod Charlie scored a front-running two-length victory under Joel Rosario on Saturday in the $1-million, G2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans, La.

Sent away as the 5-2 second choice in the wagering behind the Brad Cox-trained 6-5 favorite Mandaloun, Hot Rod Charlie battled with Midnight Bourbon and Joe Talamo throughout the 1 3/16 miles, and put that rival away in the final sixteenth of a mile to win in 1:55.06 on a fast main track, a new track record at the infrequently run distance. He paid $7.80 to win.

Fractions of the race were :23.10, :47.04, 1:11.25 and 1:36.38.

Midnight Bourbon held second, with 28-1 longshot O Besos rallying up the rail late to finish a head back in third, with 3-1 third choice Proxy another 1 3/4 lengths back in fourth. Mandaloun finished sixth of the eight 3-year-olds. The Risen Star winner tried to reach contention with the top pair going into the far turn but was not able to sustain his rally.

Leandro Mora, assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill, was the trainer of record for the Louisiana Derby as O’Neill was serving a 10-day medication suspension for a lidocaine positive in California from March 8-17 when entries for the race were taken.

The son of the Awesome Again stallion, Oxbow, Hot Rod Charlie earned 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, with the second through fourth finishers getting 40, 20 and 10 points, respectively.

Updated Kentucky Derby leaderboard

Hot Rod Charlie is owned by the partnership of Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing and William Strauss. Bred in Kentucky by Edward Cox Jr., Hot Rod Charlie was purchased for $110,000 by Dennis O’Neill at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale.

It took Hot Rod Charlie four races to break his maiden, winning his first two-turn race on dirt after a pair of turf races and one main track sprint. He was a rank outsider in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but battled Essential Quality down the stretch, losing by three quarters of a length. He was the third nose on the wire in the Lewis, beaten a neck by Medina Spirit and Roman Centurion.

Post-Race Quotes
Joel Rosario, jockey Hot Rod Charlie (1st): I wanted to get a little position. It didn’t look like there was much speed in the race. He broke well and in the first turn I found myself on the lead. Working with him in the morning, he relaxes and you don’t have to get him in the race. It worked out really well. He handled the distance very well. Very impressive. With the horse coming on his outside (Midnight Bourbon) he really fought back. He doesn’t have to be on the lead. He can do anything. He can be a little bit off the pace and will run the same way.

Greg Helm, owner of Hot Rod Charlie with Roadrunner Racing: We’ve got a horse in the Kentucky Derby. This guy (Doug O’Neill’s nephew Patrick) knows it (the Kentucky Derby) better than anybody. We’ve been struggling with this horse to be first every time and he comes in right when we need him.

Patrick O’Neill, owner of Hot Rod Charlie with Boat Racing: We are so extremely blessed. I just missed a phone call from Doug and Dennis (O’Neill), my uncles. It’s a family affair, but we added friends and we couldn’t be more fortunate. What an amazing horse. An amazing sport. We’re going to the Kentucky Derby, hopefully, ya know.

Joe Talamo, jockey Midnight Bourbon (2nd): We got a perfect trip and turning for home I had a lot of horse and I thought we had it. We just got outfinished. Hats off to the winner, he ran huge and fought back on me. I think this distance suits this horse and I think he will be fine (going forward).

Greg Foley, trainer O Besos (3rd): He answered that distance question today. He galloped out in front. It would have been nice to finish second. We sure have to think about it (the Kentucky Derby). The biggest thing was would he go that far, and I think he answered the ground question as good or better than any of them in there.

John Velazquez, jockey Proxy (4th): He kind of ran the same race (as the Risen Star). I thought he would be more aggressive but by the time I got to the backstretch I had to ride him again. He took me to the first turn like he was going to go really good and we got to the backstretch and we got off the bridle. You have to ride him. He came to the quarter-pole and then kind of flattened down the lane.

Mike Stidham, trainer Proxy (4th): Very confusing. We’ll go back to the barn and take a look a at him. The blinkers did not improve him. You could see Johnny getting after him at the half-mile pole, the same as last time (in the Risen Star), when he had to remind him ‘let’s go.’ This time, he made a little bit of run but seemed to flatten out the last part of it.

Florent Geroux, jockey Mandaloun (6th): He was a little flat today and I ran out of gas late. I’m disappointed. I had the same trip I had the first two times (in the Lecomte and Risen Star); I was tracking the horses that ran 1-2 and, for some reason, just came up really empty when it was time to run. It’s disappointing. That’s why these preps are made; to see where you are at for the Derby. Off that effort I really don’t know what he’ll do. He’s already in, but I don’t know. He was traveling great on the backside, I almost thought I had to slow him down because he was doing so good. But when it was time to run he just didn’t have it.

Brad Cox, trainer Mandaloun (6th): He was flat and we’re disappointed. There’s no other way to say it. I don’t know. Obviously, this is a nice horse that won the race and he backed up Essential Quality’s form pretty good. I was happy with the trip; he was 3-wide and stalking the winner but at the half-mile pole it looked like we were in trouble. I have no excuse right now, we’ll just have to see. It’s frustrating but it’s part of it. I can’t ask him to train any better and I don’t think I would have done anything different. We’ll just regroup.


The post California Invader Hot Rod Charlie Scores Front-End Victory In Louisiana Derby appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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