Idle since finishing third in the Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 1, Doug O’Neill trainee Hot Rod Charlie drilled five furlongs before the first race at Santa Anita Park on May 28, clocking 1:00.40 in his final major move for the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 5.
With jockey Flavien Prat aboard, Hot Rod Charlie, who was accompanied by O’Neill’s Hall of Fame gelding Lava Man and workmate Liam’s Pride, came on Santa Anita’s main track via the quarter mile chute at 12:14 p.m. PT, jogged by the Grandstand and was then set down for his work at the five-furlong pole with Liam’s Pride positioned about two lengths in front of him as a target.
With Prat sitting still, Hot Rod Charlie rattled off splits of :24.06 and :48.32 while gaining the advantage an eighth of a mile from the wire before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.62.
“Very happy with his breeze today,” said O’Neill. “Flavien was happy with the way he did it and that makes me happy. He had a good strong gallop going into this work and now he’s got a strong work and gallop-out going into the race.
“We just want to stay injury free and we’re pumped up and optimistic about a week from tomorrow. This horse is getting more and more confident and he’s starting to separate himself from the others. He’ll leave Saturday morning at about 3 a.m., along with Lava Man, who’s going to take him to the post for the Belmont.”
A winner of the Louisiana Derby (G2) two starts back on March 20, Hot Rod Charlie was third, beaten a neck three starts back by eventual Kentucky Derby first-place finisher Medina Spirit in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita on Jan. 30.
Owned by Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, LLC, Strauss Bros Racing and Gainesway Thoroughbreds, Ltd, Hot Rod Charlie, who is a Kentucky-bred colt by Oxbow, out of the Indian Charlie mare Indian Miss, is 8-2-1-3, has earnings of $1,305,700.
Prat, who won the Preakness Stakes (G1) on May 15 aboard the Michael McCarthy-trained Rombauer, made the decision to stick with Hot Rod Charlie for the Belmont Stakes.
Earlier Friday morning at Santa Anita Park, Runhappy Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Rock Your World worked five furlongs in preparation for his expected run in the Belmont Stakes.
Rock Your World was timed in a bullet :58.40, fastest of 34 drills at the distance.
“It was a good work,” said John Sadler, who trains the son of Candy Ride (ARG). “He ships to New York tomorrow.”
Rock Your World won his first two races on turf, then made his main track debut in the Santa Anita Derby April 3, leading throughout the race to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
The colt was sandwiched at the start of the Run for Roses, never got untracked and finished 17th of 19.
“We hope to right the ship in the Belmont,” Sadler said.