2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic Entries: Hot Rod Charlie

2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

In the days leading up to the 38th Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar in California, usracing.com is publishing profiles of the horses in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (Saturday, Nov. 6). The profiles will be updated following the post-position draw on Monday, Nov. 1.

By Margaret Ransom

Hot Rod Charlie at the Pennsylvania Derby – Photo Courtesy of Chad B. Harmon

This son of 2013 Preakness (G1) winner Oxbow has had a very interesting year, to say the least. Nonetheless, the Doug O’Neill trainee heads into the Classic as one of the better 3-year-olds and one to pay attention to when making your wagers.

Hot Rod Charlie, named for a drinking game the co-owning Boat Stable group used to play in college, finally got his Grade 1 victory in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) in September after coming close in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Belmont Stakes (G1) and Haskell Stakes (G1). He finished first in the Haskell but was disqualified for a hotly-debated incident in the stretch drive.

Whether it was due to the limited use whip rule in New Jersey or nonchalance by jockey Flavien Prat, Hot Rod Charlie came over in the stretch and bumped rival Midnight Bourbon hard, causing him to clip heels and stumble and toss jockey Paco Lopez to the track.

Nobody was injured, except for maybe the bettors who had him to win and his connections, who lost out on the winner’s share of the $1 million purse.He had his next-to-last work over his home track of Santa Anita on Oct. 24, where he posted a 7-furlong effort in 1:26 3/5, which was designed as a simulation of what his Breeders’ Cup trip may look like, according to O’Neill.

“He sat off a workmate and there were a couple others out there from other barns, so he kind of sat in behind three horses, split ‘em turning for home and finished up good,” O’Neill said. “He had a taste of what the Classic could look like. He’s versatile, so we have options.”

Breeders’ Cup Classic Profile: Hot Rod Charlie

Post position: TBD

Odds: TBD

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Trainer: Doug O’Neill

Owners: Roadrunner Racing (Greg Helm), Bill Strauss, Gainesway Stable and Boat Racing (former Brown University football players Patrick O’Neill (the trainer’s nephew), Eric Armagost, Dan Giovacchini, Reiley Higgins and Alex Quoyeser)

Career record: 11-3-2-3

Career earnings: $2,171,200

Top Equibase speed figure: 120

Pedigree: Oxbow-Indian Miss, by Indian Charlie

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Betting advice: This horse has tremendous figures – speed, class, and pace – and has been improving with every start. He’s also got tremendous heart to go with natural talent and if he’s not a top selection, he’s a must-use in all exotics.


Notes: Doug O’Neill has had 58 Breeders’ Cup starters since his first, Decarchy, finished 12th in the 2003 Mile. His winners include Stevie Wonderboy (2005 Juvenile), Thor’s Echo (2006 Sprint), Mayfield (2007 Filly & Mare Sprint), Goldencents (2013 Dirt Mile) and Nyquist (2015 Juvenile) … Flavien Prat has ridden 46 Breeders’ Cup mounts with three winners – Obviously (2016 Turf Sprint), Battle of Midway (2017 Dirt Mile), Storm the Court (2019 Juvenile)… this is a first Breeders’ Cup starter for the ownership group… Hot Rod Charlie runs for charity, a portion of his earnings go to Jake Panus Walk On Football Endowed Scholarship, named for the late son of The Jockey Club’s communications director who was killed at age 16 in a car accident; and to the Melanoma Research Alliance, the type of cancer that claimed the life of O’Neill’s brother and father… dam Indian Miss also produced Breeders’ Cup winner and champion sprinter Mitole.

Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters, Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager. She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several race horse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull as her favorite horse of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, three Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.