Column: Hot Rod Charlie, linked to Belmont Stakes, born to run
Thoroughbred trainer Doug O’Neill stopped to give an idea of what it would mean for Del Mar owner Bill Strauss to win a Triple Crown race.
Thrilling? Exhilarating? Take off your clothes and browse “The Quad”, Will Ferrell style in “Old School”?
Nope. Not quite fair.
“Winning? Especially in his home state of New York? We don’t know anything,” O’Neill said of this potential volcanic eruption. “He’s a huge fan of (Bruce) Springsteen. it would feel with a front row seat at a Springsteen concert, multiply that by 10. ”
O’Neill guides Hot Rod Charlie, who finished third at the Kentucky Derby on May 1. Strauss, who co-founded the multi-million dollar Pro Flowers company with current Colorado Governor Jared Polis, has the largest stake among horses. Eclectic mix of owners that includes five 20-year former Brown University football players.
The Derby, a 20 horses free for all where Charlie finished a head-long shot in third, boosted confidence. The longer Belmont Stakes, scheduled for June 5 at Belmont Park, is even more appealing.
Springsteen could tune this guitar, just in case.
“Oh, man,” said Strauss, a Syracuse graduate, when asked to consider the possibility of a trip to the winner’s circle a short cab ride from JFK International Airport. “Winning a ‘classic’ would be the icing on the cake. It would be amazing.
Except, well, that would be do not be amazing.
Hot Rod Charlie is the second betting pick in the Belmont behind the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and the $ 2.4 million Essential Quality winner. That puts him ahead of Preakness winner Rombauer.
It’s more than a chance for a puncher.
To survive and thrive in the wild and chaotic traffic of a Derby is one thing. This Belmont will put eight fewer horses at the gate, and at a mile and a half there will be more time and space to recover from any problems early.
“We think the distance is perfect,” said Strauss, who watched Charlie’s final practice Friday in Santa Anita. “He has good cruising speed, good tactical speed. The way he trains, the way he runs, he doesn’t get tired.
“He can run all day.”
As Strauss and O’Neill left the track at Churchill Downs as the Derby dust settled, the couple smiled. They knew how close Charlie was to being a part of Derby lore, despite having a push and turn moment out of the gate with Midnight Bourbon.
The improving stride horse, which needed four races to achieve a victory, struggled in traffic. He remained patient and kept up the pace. He refused to shrivel up on the stretch. It has stood up to the essential quality on the outside.
Charlie ran out of the racetrack before emptying the gas tank.
“The longer it can last, the better,” Strauss said.
“If a horse hyperventiles a little (pressure or distance) a mile and a half doesn’t work,” he said. “Fit and ready?” He checks this box. Do you have a horse that loves to travel? Yes, he checks that. Then, the continuity of having (the jockey Flavien) Prat, who crushes in California, it’s great to see him again.
“Charlie is very lucky.”
The horse handled the transition from the big race to the big race by diving into the job like a rock-and-roll roadie. In the Juvenile Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland, Charlie shattered low expectations by finishing second (three quarters length) with odds of 94-1. This area also included Rombauer.
Charlie won the Louisiana Derby and then flirted to do the same at the Derby himself.
“Even with a bit of adversity at the start of the race, he never stopped trying,” O’Neill said of the Derby race. “He ran a winning race. He just didn’t have the perfect trip.
The Derby intrigue remains.
Medina Spirit’s victory remains unstable after the horse tested positive for a banned substance on race day. As the Kentucky board and lawyers continue to sort it out, he has the potential to bring Hot Rod Charlie back up.
If the win is erased, the team’s scholarship money would double to $ 600,000 and elevate Charlie’s overall standing – and breeding income, potentially – by becoming a finalist in the sport’s biggest race.
Strauss, for his part, has little interest in joining the drama.
“I would prefer none of this had ever happened,” he says. “We certainly wouldn’t turn down the money, but the way it turned out I’d rather not be in that position to be honest.
However, they learned a lesson similar to Springsteen’s that day.
This horse, baby, he was born to run.
Hronis can’t wait for Rock Your World’s do-over
It’s hard to imagine a more difficult or difficult start to the Kentucky Derby than the one experienced by Rock Your World.
The horse, owned by Hronis Racing, hesitated to come out of the gate just long enough for the narrowing hole between neighboring essential quality and highly motivated horses to disappear. Then a foot of veteran jockey Joel Rosario collapsed on a stirrup.
Goodbye, Derby shot.
As the Belmont Stakes approach, Kosta Hronis, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club board member, hopes that time and space can change fate.
“He traveled well in Kentucky, but on race day the stint was a bit awkward for him,” Hronis said. “There were a lot of people around him. In the paddock, he acted a bit and showed his immaturity.
“We were hit (at the start), but it’s our fault. If these horses do not see anyone between them, they will float. Rock Your World was in a way his worst enemy.
Win all three career races before dropping to 17e in the ultimate deflated horse racing spotlight. The Belmont offers a redemption chance for Rock Your World, the fourth bet choice of 12.
The smaller field and the longer stroke create a fascinating recovery.
“It’s horse racing,” Hronis said. “It’s part of the deal. You move on to the next race. His gallop out (winner) of the Santa Anita Derby was really strong. We had trouble putting it back together. He was ready to do more.
“He looked really cool after practice, untaxed so distance shouldn’t be a problem.
A good start would be good, for, uh, for beginners.
“It will be quite anxious when those doors open,” he said.
– Bryce Miller