Hot Rod Charlie (Oxbow), front-running winner of the GII TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby in his most recent trip to the races, prepped for the May 1 GI Kentucky Derby with a five-furlong breeze Saturday morning over the Santa Anita main track. The half-brother to champion Mitole (Eskendereya) stopped the clock in 1:01.20 to the satisfaction of trainer Doug O'Neill.
“'Charlie' had company with a horse named Hammering Lemon (Square Eddie) [clocked in 1:01.60] who broke off in front of him,” the two-time Derby-winning trainer commented. “They both finished up good, but Charlie was the better of the two. Knock on wood we're heading the right way.”
Winner of his maiden in his first try at a dirt route last October, Hot Rod Charlie spiced up the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile exacta, going down by 3/4 of a length to 'TDN Rising Star' Essential Quality (Tapit) as a 94-1 outsider. The dark bay was a troubled third to Medina Spirit (Protonico) when making his seasonal debut in the GIII Robert B. Lewis S. Jan. 30, but led every step of the 9 1/2 furlongs of the Louisiana Derby to punch his ticket to the big dance.