Given the light stakes action this week, today’s blog post will focus on three of the major players in the older dirt routing division for 2022. Even though this topic might cross over with other Horse Racing Nation articles on the same horses, it still helps to see different viewpoints on why a horse might succeed.
The three horses I'll discuss are Flightline, Americanrevolution and Hot Rod Charlie.
Despite his lack of graded-stakes experience, Flightline’s supporters predicted he would dominate the Malibu Stakes (G1) in the same fashion as his 13 1/4-length maiden win at Santa Anita and 12 3/4-length Del Mar allowance optional claiming win.
As the heavy favorite, Flightline did not disappoint his legion of backers, turning in an incredible 11 1/2-length romp.
To put the race in perspective, Flightline dominated a Grade 1 field in his graded stakes debut and only his third lifetime start as a 3-year-old.
Clearly, the raw talent is off the charts with this rising superstar.
Expect the connections to stretch Flightline out. Pedigree-wise, there are no roadblocks in his blood to handling one mile or more. This is a son of Tapit out of the Indian Charlie mare Feathered, the 2015 Edgewood Stakes (G3) winner who also ran second in the 1 1/4-mile American Oaks (G1). Early in his stud career, Tapit was mislabeled as a sprinter or miler type of sire, but then he sired multiple Belmont Stakes winners to establish himself as one of the premier stamina influences in racing.
Even with a limited schedule, Flightline is the likely Horse of the Year as long as he continues his brilliance and ends the year undefeated. Of course, anything can happen in horse racing and perhaps he loses his form or one of his limited races at some point. Even the great Secretariat lost a couple of times. Plus, he still needs to travel, and trainer John Sadler is not known as a win machine when shipping.
Regardless, Flightline is the real deal from a talent standpoint. He will offer terrible odds wherever he runs – just put away the form for his races and watch. There is nothing wrong with enjoying brilliance without a bet.
While this newly turned 4-year-old colt did not blow anyone away with his Cigar Mile (G1) win last month, he did beat a nice horse in the runner-up Following Sea, who is also his stablemate.
Expect improvement from Americanrevolution as he stretches out again to longer distances. Two of his four previous wins before the Cigar Mile came at nine furlongs in the Albany Stakes at Saratoga and Empire Classic at Belmont. Even though he beat New York state-breds in those races, he won easily each time at five lengths in the former race and a crushing 11 3/4 lengths in the latter race.
Nine or 10 furlongs seems ideal for this grinding colt. At one mile, Americanrevolution might not possess the same acceleration or turn of foot that he flashes in longer races.
With that in mind, Americanrevolution is an exciting horse to look forward to in races such as the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and Woodward Stakes (G1) later in the year. Assuming he passes those tests successfully, Americanrevolution will go into the Breeders’ Cup Classic as a major player.
Hot Rod Charlie
Not too long ago, Hot Rod Charlie won the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) in September by 2 1/4 lengths over Midnight Bourbon after surviving a controversial inquiry into a far turn incident between the two horses.
An inexperienced Americanrevolution was six lengths back in third. He had stepped out of state-bred company to make his graded-stakes debut.
The Pennsylvania Derby ended up as Hot Rod Charlie’s only Grade 1 victory last year. But he was unlucky not to win a couple more.
In the Belmont Stakes, Hot Rod Charlie set fast opening fractions in the first half-mile before grudgingly tiring to second late when Essential Quality made his winning move in the stretch. Even though Hot Rod Charlie lost, he gave an excellent effort and arguably did more work in the marathon than Essential Quality, who took advantage of the pace.
As for the Haskell Stakes (G1), Hot Rod Charlie crossed the wire first only to become justifiably disqualified after Midnight Bourbon clipped heels with him when Hot Rod Charlie moved into his lane under Flavien Prat without proper clearance. Prat likely cost him the win in this case.
If nothing else, Hot Rod Charlie is a tough horse who can withstand a fast pace. Expect him to remain in the top mix of older dirt routers.