Hot Rod Charlie Fresh Off Juvenile Shock
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
Hot Rod Charlie was a maiden winner going into the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), but the 94-1 shot stunned the racing world when he ran winner Essential Quality to three-quarters of a length. Now the son of Oxbow will be making his 2021 debut at Santa Anita Park on Saturday in the $100,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3), one of the first Kentucky Derby prep races of the year.
A $110,000 purchase in 2019, Hot Rod Charlie went into training with Doug O’Neill but took four tries to break his maiden. He started out sprinting on the dirt at Del Mar, moved up a bit on the grass there, and then won over a mile at Santa Anita. He was in striking position throughout the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and refused to give way until the final strides of the race. Joel Rosario picks up the mount on the colt, who has had a steady series of workouts this month.
He faces a tough field including stablemate Wipe the Slate. The son of 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist won second out, scoring over this track at seven furlongs. Mario Gutierrez retains the mount on the $175,000 purchase, who runs for Reddam Racing.
The favorite is Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) winner Spielberd. The son of Union Rags cost $1 million as a yearling, and trainer Bob Baffert thought enough of him to run him in Grade 1 company twice before he broke his maiden. Spielberg placed both times, then broke his maiden at Del Mar going a mile. The horse he defeated in the Futurity, The Great One, came back to win by 14 lengths last week.
Baffert’s other runner is Medina Spirit, a son of Protonico who broke his maiden sprinting at Los Alamitos by three lengths. He ran second behind division leader Life Is Good last out in the Sham over a mile, and is formidable in this spot.
Trainer John Shirreffs has two, including Waspirant. The 20-1 shot is by Union Rags and out of 2009 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (G1) heroine Life Is Sweet. He broke his maiden at Del Mar over a mile, then ran poorly in both the Grade 1 American Pharoah, and the Grade 3 Sham Stakes here on January 2. Stablemate Parnelli did better in the Sham, finishing third, but he was nearly 14 lengths behind winner Life Is Good. Before that, Parnelli broke his maiden at Del Mar by nearly six lengths, but has already lost to both Spielberg and Hot Rod Charlie.
Rombauer and Roman Centurion complete the field. TVG.com is the best place to bet Santa Anita racing online, and to find free picks for Santa Anita.
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