Hot Rod Charlie: ‘Blue-Collar’ Horse Goes From 94-1 Shot To Pennsylvania Derby Favorite

No one gave Roadrunner Racing, William Strauss, Boat Racing and Gainesway Stables’ Hot Rod Charlie a second look when he ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November. The speedy son of Oxbow was given two chances to win that prize: none and none.

Hot Rod Charlie was dismissed at odds of 94-1 that day and ended up finishing second, three quarters of a length behind Essential Quality.

It was a sign of things to come.

“That was pretty incredible,” trainer Doug O’Neill said about the Juvenile. “It sounds pretty obvious, but that is the thing that sent us on our way. It really set the tone for what has happened this year.”

With the sudden defection of Medina Spirit from the Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, Hot Rod Charlie is the new morning-line favorite at odds of 8-5.

Saturday will be his first race since the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell at Monmouth Park on July 17. In that race, Hot Rod Charlie was the first horse across the finish line but was disqualified and placed last after Midnight Bourbon clipped heels with him in the stretch.

Before that, Hot Rod Charlie and jockey Flavien Prat ran a courageous race in the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont, finishing second behind Essential Quality.

In five starts this year, Hot Rod Charlie has one win — the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby — to go along with a third in the Grade 1, $3 million Kentucky Derby.

“He has shown up in every big race we have had him in,” O’Neill said. “He has been very honest and, gosh, I just feel so lucky and blessed to be connected with him, He is just a real cool, blue-collar, solid horse.”

After the Haskell, Hot Rod Charlie went back to O’Neill’s base in California and the trainer decided he would let the horse tell him when he was ready to go again.

“He needed a couple of weeks after the Haskell,” O’Neill said. “He had to get his bearings about him and get his energy back to where we wanted it to be. As I started breezing him, I just let him go easy, and the last couple of works we have asked him for a little bit of run. He has responded in normal Charlie fashion.”

Hot Rod Charlie arrived at Parx along with the popular Hall of Famer Lava Man, who serves as the colt’s pony, last Saturday.

“He seems to be coming into the Pennsylvania Derby in good shape,” O’Neill said. “I am a big fan of Bensalem and I’m pumped to be going into their signature race with a live chance.”

The post Hot Rod Charlie: ‘Blue-Collar’ Horse Goes From 94-1 Shot To Pennsylvania Derby Favorite appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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