Even though he set the blistering pace in Saturday’s Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets and got into a heavyweight clash with Essential Quality down the lane before losing the 1 ½ mile “Test of the Champion” to that one by only 1 ½ lengths, Hot Rod Charlie was full of energy and enthusiasm the morning after at Belmont Park, Elmont, N.Y.
“He looks awesome, just awesome,” stated trainer Doug O’Neill before jetting back to his Southern California base. “He ate up everything and licked his feed tub. We scoped him after the race, and he scoped clean. He was definitely a little rubber-legged after the race, but, by the time he got back to the barn area, he had already recovered. He recovered quickly. He’s amazing.”
O’Neill, who was seeking his first Belmont victory, said that how quickly this colt bounced back is a sign of how fit he is.
Looking for the best online betting site and Live betting? Visit Heritage Sports!
“Look at his dapples. He’s so dappled it’s unbelievable. His coat is still beautiful. He’s full of energy and is just great this morning,” said the trainer while showing off his charge.
In 2012, O’Neill saw his hope of winning the Triple Crown with Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and Grade 1 Preakness Stakes winner I’ll Have Another dashed when that colt was scratched on the eve of the race, and then he had to withdraw 2016 G1 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist from Belmont consideration when the colt spiked a fever two weeks before the race.
Twelve hours after watching Hot Rod Charlie, the winner of the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, come so close in the 2021 Belmont, he’d had time to put the performance into perspective.
“We’re so proud of him. Super proud of Charlie,” he said of his team in the barn and the ownership group of Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, William Strauss, and Gainesway Stable. “We all feel so blessed to be connected with a champion of a racehorse. The whole crew would do this with him even if there was no purse money. To compete at the highest level and see Charlie and Flavien Prat connect on the biggest stage and give such a monstrous effort, we’re going to carry that for days and weeks and months. We’re still buzzing.”
Hot Rod Charlie, by 2013 G1 Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow out of the Indian Charlie mare Indian Miss, has tangled with G1 Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality twice before.
In the G1 Kentucky Derby, he was third, finishing in front of Essential Quality (fourth). In last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Essential Quality finished first but just ¾ lengths in front of “Charlie.”
O’Neill said a rematch in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers Stakes on Augusta 28 at Saratoga is possible.
“I think that’s very logical,” said O’Neill. “The great thing about this group of guys is that they’re so patient. I’m sure we’ll talk about that in the next week or two, but just knowing the way this journey has played out, and hopefully, there are plenty more chapters in the Charlie tale, we probably won’t decide for another three weeks or so. But it is the most logical next spot. If he takes us there.”
The Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar Race Track in Del Mar, CA is also a possibility for the 3-year-old.
Hot Rod Charlie was scheduled to fly back to O’Neill’s stable early next week.
“When you look as good as Charlie does this morning, when you scope as clean, and when his appetite is this good, and you’ve got a great horse, it’s a great journey,” he said.
Get all the latest Live Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets. Find us on both Facebook and Twitter