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Kentucky Derby Contenders Pedigree Analysis: Hot Rod Charlie
Hot Rod Charlie (Credit: Ernie Belmonte)

Kentucky Derby Contenders Pedigree Analysis: Hot Rod Charlie

With the Kentucky Derby (G1) less than 6 weeks away, I’m back for my second year of analyzing some of the top contenders’ pedigrees.

This week’s subject: Hot Rod Charlie

With a career record of 7-2-1-2 and already over $1 million in career earnings, Hot Rod Charlie has emerged as one of the top colts in this class. Trained by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Doug O’Neill, Hot Rod Charlie has shown tremendous promise since switching to the dirt after briefly trying turf.

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Kentucky Derby Ranking

Hot Rod Charlie is currently on top of the Kentucky Derby point standings with 110 points that he earned for finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) (earning 8 points), third in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) (2 points), and for going gate to wire in the Louisiana Derby (G2) (100). That win combined with the recent news that Life Is Good is now off the Triple Crown trail skyrocketed Hot Rod Charlie up most Kentucky Derby rankings.

Although he only has 2 career wins, Hot Rod Charlie has shown the ability to set the pace, stalk the pace, or close. His versatility has made Hot Rod Charlie a serious contender so far, and after going to gate to wire at the 1 3/16-mile distance of the Louisiana Derby, there is no question that he can handle the Kentucky Derby distance (1 1/4 miles). Could he do it again, or was that a once-in-a-career performance? Let’s see if Hot Rod Charlie’s pedigree says he has what it takes.

Sire Profile


Major career wins: 2013 Lecomte Stakes (G3), 2013 Preakness Stakes (G1)

Oxbow finished his career with a record of 13-3-2-1 and over $1.2 million in career earnings. Although Oxbow only won 3 times, he will forever be remembered for going gate to wire in the 2013 Preakness at 15/1 odds. Oxbow was one of only three horses that year to compete in all three Triple Crown races, along with the Kentucky Derby winner Orb and the eventual 2013 Eclipse Award Champion 3-Year-Old Will Take Charge. Oxbow finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Belmont Stakes (G1).

Sired by 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Awesome Again and out of a dam whose bloodline traces back to 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, Oxbow’s pedigree checked all the right boxes with the combination of speed and stamina to be a top-class horse.  Unfortunately, his career as a stallion has been anything but great. Since standing at Calumet Farm in 2014, Oxbow has only sired three graded stakes winners (including Hot Rod Charlie), and each of those only won a graded stakes once.

Hot Rod Charlie is Oxbow’s first male to do it and is already his most successful progeny, despite just 2 career wins. Oxbow is also still searching for his first Grade 1 winner, which could be Hot Rod Charlie, who would become his sire’s first Kentucky Derby runner.

Dam Profile

Indian Miss

Major career wins: None

Winless in 2 career starts, Indian Miss was nothing special on the racetrack. Sired by Indian Charlie and out of a dam whose bloodlines trace back to the great Mr. Prospector (a common trend among the top Kentucky Derby contenders in recent years), it’s no wonder that Indian Miss was already a successful broodmare before Hot Rod Charlie. Indian Miss has had 7 foals as a broodmare, but 1 towers above the rest: Mitole, winner of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and earner of over $3 million with a record of 14-10-2-2 that includes 4 Grade 1 wins, each at a different track.

Due to Mitole’s success, Indian Miss sold for $1.9 million at the 2020 November Keeneland Sale and her 2019 foal (an Into Mischief filly) sold for $525,000 at the 2020 September Keeneland Yearling Sale. In addition to Mitole, her other 4 foals to race all won, and Hot Rod Charlie became her second millionaire. Keep an eye on Indian Miss as a broodmare over the next few years, especially with two unnamed Into Mischief foals having been reported.

Hot Rod Charlie winning the Louisiana Derby (Credit: Hodges Photography)

Overall, while I think Hot Rod Charlie is an intriguing horse who deserves respect in this 3-year-old class, I’m not sold on him as a legitimate win contender for the Kentucky Derby. However, with his versatile running style, I think he’s a must-use on all Derby tickets, especially exactas and trifectas. Like his sire Oxbow, I expect to see Hot Rod Charlie run in multiple (if not all three) legs of the 2021 Triple Crown.

Let me know what you think!

Vinny Blond is a New York-based handicapper who is one half of Real Dynasty Picks. Follow him on Twitter @PicksByDynasty.

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