Hot Rod Charlie Back in Action Saturday on Loaded Monmouth Card

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Hot Rod Charlie | Sarah Andrew

Hot Rod Charlie (Oxbow), a strong second when last seen in the G1 Dubai World Cup Mar. 26, will begin his road to the GI Breeders' Cup Classic in Saturday's GIII Salvator Mile S. on Monmouth Park's inaugural GI TVG.com Haskell S. preview day. He'll face six rivals with Hall of Famer Mike Smith booked to ride.

The half-brother to champion Mitole (Eskendereya) returns to the Jersey Shore for the first time since being disqualified from first and placed seventh for interference in a roughly run edition of last year's Haskell. He crossed the wire a nose ahead of promoted GI Kentucky Derby hero Mandaloun (Into Mischief) that day after drifting in a furlong for home and causing the ill-fated Midnight Bourbon (Tiznow) to clip heels and lose his jockey.

Hot Rod Charlie's sophomore campaign, headed by a win in the GI Pennsylvania Derby, also includes a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby and a valiant runner-up effort in the GI Belmont S. He kicked off his 4-year-old season with a win in the G2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 prior to coming up 1 3/4 lengths short of Country Grammer (Tonalist) in the $12-million centerpiece in the desert.

“I think the timing was right and he's ready to run,” trainer Doug O'Neill told TDN's Katie Petrunyak. “I like the mile distance and the fact that he's shipped into Monmouth and run well there before is beneficial as well.”

He continued, “We have the Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland circled as our ultimate goal. We will see how Saturday goes and how he comes out of it and then go from there.”

In addition to the Salvator Mile, Monmouth's 14-race card also features the GIII Eatontown S., GIII Monmouth S.; and the local Haskell prep race, the $150,000 TVG.com Pegasus S. for 3-year-olds.

Saturday's remaining graded action includes: a five-horse field headed by Juddmonte homebred and narrow GI Maker's Mark Mile S. runner-up Masen (GB) (Kingman {GB}) in Belmont's GIII Poker S.; and a sextet, including GII Santa Margarita S. upsetter Blue Stripe (Arg) (Equal Stripes {Arg}), in Santa Anita's GII Santa Maria S.

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