March 3, 2024

Hot Rod Charlie back for Salvator Mile; Monmouth offers stakes quartet

Hot Rod Charlie winning the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing (Photo By Nikki Sherman/Equi-Photo)

Grade 1 winner Hot Rod Charlie, last seen finishing second in the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) in late March, will come back for Saturday’s $150,000 Salvator Mile (G3) at Monmouth Park. The two-turn mile event anchors an All-Stakes Late Pick 4 on the 14-race program.

Runner-up in last year’s Kentucky Derby (G1) and Belmont S. (G1), Hot Rod Charlie also finished first in the Haskell (G1) at Monmouth before being disqualified. He recorded his first Grade 1 victory in September’s Pennsylvania Derby (G1), and the gray colt finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar.

A Group 2 winner in Dubai earlier this season, the four-year-old will face six rivals in the Salvator Mile, and Mike Smith picks up the mount for Doug O’Neill.

“We were looking at the calendar around the country and the Salvator Mile just seemed to fit perfectly with him being ready right now,” O’Neill told Monmouth’s press office.  “The big race we’re aiming for with him will be the Breeders’ Cup Classic (at Keeneland on Nov. 5). We’ve got that circled and Saturday’s race circled as well. Aside from the Classic and the Salvator Mile we haven’t really decided on anything else.”

A son of Oxbow, Hot Rod Charlie has earned more than $5.1 million.

“Saturday will tell us a lot,” O’Neill added. “What we do after this depends on his performance and how he comes out of the race.”

His main rivals include Shirl’s Speight, who will switch back to dirt after a fourth in the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) on the Kentucky Derby undercard. The five-year-old captured the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) on Keeneland’s turf two starts back, and Emma-Jayne Wilson will be in to ride for Roger Attfield.

Graded winners Helium and Mind Control add more depth to the field.

Chad Brown will look to sweep the three stakes preceding the Salvator Mile.

The stakes action kicks off with the $150,000 Eatontown (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on turf, and Brown has a pair of top contenders in Fluffy Socks and Lemista. Manny Franco and John Velazquez have the respective mounts.

Eight fillies and mares are entered, and multiple Grade 2 queen Princess Grace, unraced since a third in the Matriarch (G1) in late November, rates as a major player for Mike Stidham.

Brown will send Sacred Life, runner-up in the May 7 Fort Marcy (G2) at Belmont, and multiple Grade 2 scorer Public Sector to the $150,000 Monmouth S. (G3) at 1 1/8 miles on turf. Other principals in the 12-horse field include Ever Dangerous, Safe Conduct, T D Dance, and Yes This Time.

The local prep for the $1 million Haskell on July 23, the $150,000 Pegasus S. will feature nine three-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles. Electability, third when making his stakes debut in the May 14 Peter Pan (G3) at Belmont, merits serious respect for Brown. Franco takes over the assignment.

Dash Attack exits a half-length triumph in the May 14 Long Branch S. at Monmouth for Kenny McPeek, and Home Brew invades for Brad Cox following a 1 3/4-length score in the Oaklawn S. in late April.