After Hot Rod Charlie's last-place-via-disqualification finish in Saturday's Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park, co-owner Bill Strauss said the Travers (G1) is an unlikely next stop.
"I don’t think so," Strauss told reporters after the race. "It’s not on our path, it was never on the path. We’re going to see how he comes out, and as they say in the game, we’ll let the horse tell us where we want to go. But I don’t think we’re going to go to Saratoga next month. I think we’ll stay home for a little while."
"Home" would be Del Mar.
The $750,000 Pacific Classic (G1) on Aug. 21 remains the most likely next start for Hot Rod Charlie, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Belmont Stakes after winning the Louisiana Derby.
Trainer Doug O'Neill told the Daily Racing Form on Sunday that the Pacific Classic is the likely next stop.
Hot Rod Charlie would face older horses in the win-and-you're-in race for the Breeders' Cup Classic, and O'Neill told the Santa Anita media team in June that, "as a 3-year-old, we’d get a big break in the weights, and a few of our owners live down there."
The last 3-year-old to win the race was Shared Belief seven years ago. O'Neill scored in the 2006 edition with Lava Man.
Strauss seemed to take the Haskell disqualification in stride.
"If that’s the call the stewards made, then I’m sure it’s the right call," Strauss said. "You know, it’s disappointing, but welcome to the sport of horse racing. At least I hope the jock came out OK. As long as there’s no injury to human or animal, it’s fine. We’ll work to fight another day, and so will they, and we’ll come back and we’ll get it next time."
He also was matter-of-fact about the possibility that the outcome might have been different if jockey Flavien Prat had been allowed to use the crop.
"It’s certainly possible. Flavien has a good right hand and a good left hand with the whip, so if he could have maybe gotten him on the left, maybe he could have gotten him straightened out. But look, nobody had whips out there, so it’s not an excuse, it’s a level playing field. But it cost us the race."
And he was encouraged by Hot Rod Charlie's performance, hanging on to cross the wire first despite a challenging stretch run duel with Mandaloun.
"He’s just a dead game horse. He wants to be a great horse, and he gives it every race, all the time. He always gives it his all. Can’t be more proud of the animal. Charlie’s great."
HRN's Matt Shifman contributed to this report.