After crossing the wire first in the July 17th Haskell Stakes (G1) and being disqualified for interference in the stretch when he impeded Midnight Bourbon, causing that rival to stumble and unseat his rider, Hot Rod Charlie finally got his grade 1 victory on Sept. 25 in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at PARX. This time around, the final result stood, however, there was once again drama in the stretch.
With jockey Flavien Prat aboard, Hot Rod Charlie led from the start, setting a measured pace in the 1 1/8-mile event. While he appeared well within himself on the front end, Hot Rod Charlie drifted out significantly at the top of the stretch, carrying out Midnight Bourbon, the same rival he impeded in the Haskell. Asking his mount for more, Prat straightened Hot Rod Charlie’s course in the lane and the handsome bay edged clear in the final three-sixteenths to win by 2 ¼ lengths. Midnight Bourbon pressed the winner throughout and held second despite being forced out on the far turn, finishing 4 ½ lengths clear of third-place finisher Americanrevolution.
In winning the first grade 1 of his career, Hot Rod Charlie covered the distance in 1:48.63 for owners Boat Racing, Gainesway Stable, Roadrunner Racing, and William Strauss. The dark bay or brown colt by Oxbow-Indian Miss, by Indian Charlie, was bred in Kentucky by Edward A. Cox Jr. and he is trained by Doug O’Neill.
Prior to the Haskell, Hot Rod Charlie finished second, beaten just 1 ¼ lengths by Essential Quality in the Belmont S. (G1), and was third to Medina Spirit in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He won the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds in March.
The $573,000 winner’s share of the Pennsylvania Derby purse boosted his bankroll to $2,171,200. His record now stands at 11-3-2-3. Last year at two, Hot Rod Charlie broke his maiden in his fourth lifetime start at Santa Anita and concluded his juvenile season with a runner-up performance to subsequent 2-Year-Old Champion Essential Quality in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland.