GISP Hot Rod Charlie Works for O'Neill; Targets Lewis

Hot Rod Charlie | Horsephotos

Already a winner of the GI Kentucky Derby with 2016 hero Nyquist (Uncle Mo) and I'll Have Another (Flower Alley) in 2012, trainer Doug O'Neill is looking forward to the New Year with Hot Rod Charlie (Oxbow), Wipe the Slate (Nyquist) and Team Merchants (Nyquist) among his well-regarded sophomores.

Hot Rod Charlie worked five furlongs at Santa Anita Saturday in a bullet :59.40, fastest of 64 drills at the distance. A narrow winner in his fourth career start at Santa Anita on October, Hot Rod Charlie closed to finish second-at whopping odds of 94-1–behind likely 2020 2-year-old male Eclipse champion Essential Quality (Tapit) in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Nov. 6.

“Hot Rod Charlie is doing great and we're pointing him to the [GIII] Bob Lewis S.,” said O'Neill, referring to the Robert B. Lewis S. at a mile and a sixteenth Jan.  30.

The Lewis, first run in 1935 as the Santa Catalina S., offers 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, four to the runner-up, two to the third-place finisher and one to the fourth.

A son of O'Neill's former pupil Nyquist, Wipe the Slate also worked Saturday, covering five furlongs in 1:01.20. Wearing blinkers for the first time, Wipe the Slate scored an impressive maiden win Dec. 26 at Santa Anita after finishing second in his debut to undefeated Sham S. winner and 'TDN Rising Star' Life Is Good (Into Mischief) at Del Mar Nov. 22.

“Wipe the Slate is doing super, but I'm not sure where he's going to blend in after that win,” O'Neill said. “It's been two weeks, so we really haven't pointed him to the next spot.

Also a son of the 2015 champion juvenile colt, Team Merchants won at second asking at Saratoga Sept. 7 after being fractious in the gate.

“Team Merchants had a little injury, so he's at the farm until he's 100%,” O'Neill added, alluding to principal owner J. Paul Reddam's Ocean Breeze Ranch in Bonsall.

Reddam Racing owned both of O'Neill's Derby winners and the team also combined to take the Lewis with Great Hunter in 2007 and I'll Have Another in 2012.

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