Hot Rod Charlie is all systems go for the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) following a stiff seven-furlong work at Santa Anita on Friday.
With jockey Flavien Prat in the irons, Hot Rod Charlie worked in company with a stablemate and completed the drill in 1:24.2 on a track rated as fast. Trainer Doug O’Neill told Horse Racing Nation that Hot Rod Charlie “took command about mid-stretch and drew off.
“The big horse worked good,” O’Neill said. “It all went well and we’ll be heading out tomorrow.”
Also working Friday at Santa Anita was Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, who is a candidate for the Pennsylvania Derby. Medina Spirit drilled six furlongs in 1:12.6.
Trainer Bob Baffert did not respond to a text message from HRN seeking comment. However, all indications are Medina Spirit will also be making the cross-country trip to Parx.
Next Saturday’s Pennsylvania Derby is shaping up as an intriguing late-season matchup of 3-year-olds. In addition to Triple Crown veterans Hot Rod Charlie and presumably Medina Spirit, other possibles/probables include Dwyer (G3) winner First Captain, Gotham (G3) winner Weyburn, multiple Grade 3 winner Mr. Wireless and the ascending allowance winner Speaker’s Corner for Godolphin and Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
As for Rock Your World, another Triple Crown veteran from Southern California, his status for the Pennsylvania Derby is unclear. He is also a candidate to face older in the Awesome Again (G1) on Oct. 2 at Santa Anita. Trainer John Sadler was unavailable for comment on Friday.
Life Is Good is also listed as possible in the table below, but the NYRA racing office on Thursday listed him as "probable" for the one-mile Kelso (G2) at Belmont Park on the same day.
Also highlighting next week's Pennsylvania Derby card is the Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion Stakes for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles.