Hot Rod Charlie Goes Without Blinkers In San Antonio

Hot Rod Charlie, who wore blinkers while finishing fourth in pursuit of victorious front-running favorite Knicks Go in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar Nov. 6, will race without them in Sunday’s Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes, a major steppingstone to the G1 Santa Anita Handicap on March 5.

“He was a bit erratic down the lane in two races before the Classic so we figured the blinkers on would be beneficial in the Breeders’ Cup, but we’re removing them for the San Antonio and I think we’ll know more after the race,” trainer Doug O’Neill said.

“His two races prior to the Breeders’ Cup Classic resulted in wins with the blinkers off,” continued O’Neill, referring to the Haskell at Monmouth July 17 and the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Sept. 25, although he was disqualified to second in the Haskell.

A 3-year-old son of Oxbow owned by Boat Racing LLC, Gainesway Stable, Roadrunner Racing and William Strauss, the $110,000 purchase has earned more than 20 times that amount with $2,471,200, despite winning only three of his12 career starts.

“He’s training well and we’re excited about opening day,” said O’Neill, who has a busy Sunday with 11 scheduled starters.

“If that’s not a one-day high for me, it’s right up in there,” he said.

The field for the San Antonio, race six of 11 with an 11 a.m. first post time: Extra Hope, Tyler Baze, 20-1 ; Express Train, Victor Espinoza, 7-2; Go On, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1; Hot Rod Charlie, Flavien Prat, 6-5; Eight Rings, John Velazquez, 4-1; Kiss Today Goodbye, Kent Desormeaux, 5-1; and Azul Coast, Juan Hernandez, 5-1.

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