Hot Rod Charlie (Oxbow), the 94-1 GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up, was sent to the front in a heady ride by Joel Rosario, and refused to lose, turning back Midnight Bourbon (Tiznow) to win going away by two lengths in Saturday's GII TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby. O Besos (Orb) rallied nicely up the rail to just miss second by a head.
The 5-2 second choice broke inward and bumped with a rival at the start. He led through fractions of :23.10 and :47.04 with Midnight Bourbon shadowing his every move. Midnight Bourbon, winner of the GIII Lecomte S. and a last out third in the GII Risen Star S., reached even terms as they hit the quarter pole and looked to be going the better of the two, but Hot Rod Charlie had another gear once switching over and dug down gamely to post a career high while establishing a new track record.
“I wanted to get a little position,” Rosario said. “It didn't look like there was much speed in the race. He broke well and in the first turn I found myself on the lead. Working with him in the morning, he relaxes and you don't have to get him in the race. It worked out really well. He handled the distance very well. Very impressive. With the horse coming on his outside [Midnight Bourbon], he really fought back. He doesn't have to be on the lead. He can do anything. He can be a little bit off the pace and will run the same way.”
Favored Risen Star hero Mandaloun (Into Mischief) sat a good trip on the outside just behind the leaders, but had little run for the stretch after a wide journey, fading to finish a well-beaten sixth.
“He was flat and we're disappointed,” trainer Brad Cox said. “There's no other way to say it. I don't know. I have no excuse right now, we'll just have to see.”
A narrow maiden winner while showing speed at fourth asking at Santa Anita Oct. 2, Hot Rod Charlie followed his huge come-from-behind run at Keeneland–beaten only three quarters by champion Essential Quality (Tapit)–with a game third in a roughly run stretch drive of the GIII Robert B. Lewis S. last time Jan. 30. Essential Quality kicked off his sophomore campaign with an impressive score in Oaklawn's GIII Southwest S.
With trainer Doug O'Neill currently serving a 10-day suspension for a positive Lidocaine finding, Hot Rod Charlie was saddled by his longtime assistant Leandro Mora.
“We are so extremely blessed,” said winning co-owner Patrick O'Neill of Boat Racing. “I just missed a phone call from Doug and Dennis [O'Neill] my uncles. It's a family affair, but we added friends and we couldn't be more fortunate. What an amazing horse. An amazing sport. We're going to the Kentucky Derby, hopefully, ya know.”
Hot Rod Charlie, a half-brother to champion sprinter Mitole (Eskendereya), becomes the third graded winner and sixth blacktype winner for his classic-winning sire.
Indian Miss, a homebred for the late Edward A. Cox Jr. and a maiden of two career starts, brought $1.9 million from Larry Best's OXO Equine in foal to Into Mischief at last year's Keeneland November Sale.
Her 2-year-old filly by leading sire Into Mischief brought $525,000–also from Best's OXO Equine–at last year's Keeneland September Sale. She also has a colt by Into Mischief of this year. Indian Miss is a half-sister to late graded winner Live Lively (Medaglia d'Oro).
Saturday, Louisiana Derby
TWINSPIRES.COM LOUISIANA DERBY-GII, $1,000,000, Fair Grounds, 3-20, 3yo, 1 3/16m, 1:55.06, ft.
1–HOT ROD CHARLIE, 122, c, 3, by Oxbow
1st Dam: Indian Miss, by Indian Charlie
2nd Dam: Glacken's Gal, by Smoke Glacken
3rd Dam: Lady Diplomat, by Silver Deputy
1ST BLACK-TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. ($17,000 Ylg
'19 FTKFEB; $110,000 Ylg '19 FTKOCT). O-Roadrunner Racing,
Boat Racing, LLC & William Strauss; B-Edward A. Cox (KY);
T-Leandro Mora; J-Joel Rosario. $610,000. Lifetime Record:
7-2-1-2, $1,005,700. *1/2 to Mitole (Eskendereya), Ch. Male
Sprinter, MGISW, $3,104,910. Werk Nick Rating: A+.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Midnight Bourbon, 122, c, 3, Tiznow–Catch the Moon, by
Malibu Moon. ($525,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP). O-Winchell
Thoroughbreds LLC; B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC
(KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen. $200,000.
3–O Besos, 122, c, 3, Orb–Snuggs and Kisses, by Soto.
O-Bernard Racing LLC, Tagg Team Racing & West Point
Thoroughbreds; B-L. Barrett Bernard (KY); T-Gregory D. Foley.
Margins: 2, HD, 1 3/4. Odds: 2.90, 7.20, 28.80.
Also Ran: Proxy, Starrininmydreams, Mandaloun, Rightandjust, Run Classic. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.