Hot Rod Charlie adds star power to Santa Anita opening day

Hot Rod Charlie adds star power to Santa Anita opening day
Photo: Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire
Opening day of the Santa Anita winter-spring meet gained some added star power with the addition of top 3-year-old Hot Rod Charlie to the $200,000 San Antonio Stakes
(G2) the day after Christmas.

The son of Oxbow, who has banked more than $2 million this season while racing from coast to coast, will stay home to contest the 1 ?-miles San Antonio before a likely trip to the Middle East early next year to contest the March 26 Dubai World Cup, trainer Doug O’Neill confirmed Tuesday.

Hot Rod Charlie returned to work in late November following his fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic when facing older horses for the first time. Previously this year, he won the Pennsylvania (G1) and Louisiana (G2) Derbys and earned top-three placings in the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, and Robert B. Lewis (G3).

The San Antonio is one of six graded-stakes on Santa Anita’s opening day card, including three Grade 1s: the $300,000 Malibu, $300,000 La Brea and $300,000 American Oaks, all for 3-year-olds. Rounding out the stakes slate are the $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile and $200,000 San Gabriel Stakes (G2), both on turf.

While Hot Rod Charlie will certainly add to the festivities on opening day, the Malibu going seven furlongs figures as the main attraction given its year-end championship implications. Breeders’ Cup Sprint runner-up Dr. Schivel is pointed to the race in an effort to help boost his case champion sprinter. The son of Violence is in a pitched battle for the Eclipse Award with fellow 3-year-old Jackie’s Warrior, who was the beaten favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Dr. Schivel’s trainer, Mark Glatt, previously told Horse Racing Nation he thought the colt maybe needed one more Grade 1 win to secure the title. It won’t be easy in the Malibu. Among the others pointed to the race are the budding superstar Flightline, who has been brilliant in two starts for trainer John Sadler. 

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