Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Hot Rod Charlie

March 21st, 2021

Second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1)… third in the Robert B. Lewis (G3)… and, finally, first in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Hot Rod Charlie has repeatedly held his own against tough competition on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, but will his strong form in the qualifiers translate to success on the first Saturday in May?

That’s a tough question. When it comes to stamina, Hot Rod Charlie’s pedigree is a mixed bag of good news and bad news, leaving the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby as something of a question mark.

The good news is, Hot Rod Charlie seems to be taking after his sire, the stoutly bred Oxbow. A son of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner and stamina influence Awesome Again, Oxbow is a full brother to 1 1/8-mile Alydar S. winner Awesome Patriot. In addition, their dam, the Cee’s Tizzy mare Tizamazing, is a full sister to two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow plus five-time graded stakes winner (and Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up) Bud Royale.

Much like Hot Rod Charlie, Oxbow flashed early promise against tough competition on the 2012-13 Road to the Kentucky Derby, foreshadowing an impressive run in the spring classics. A sixth-place effort over a sloppy track in the Kentucky Derby preceded a gate-to-wire Preakness (G1) victory and a gutsy runner-up effort in the Belmont (G1), performances that showcased Oxbow’s effective blend of speed and stamina.

Although Oxbow hasn’t set the world on fire at stud, he has sired a handful of stakes winners, the majority at their best running one mile or farther. In addition to Hot Rod Charlie, Oxbow is responsible for Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) winner Coach Rocks, Tempted (G3) heroine Oxy Lady, and Sapling S. winner Waist Deep.

But if Oxbow can be considered a source of stamina, then the bottom half of Hot Rod Charlie’s pedigree must be viewed as strictly speed-oriented. His dam, Indian Miss, was unremarkable as a racehorse, finishing third and fifth in her only starts. But she’s been a rousing success as a broodmare, most notably foaling the blazingly fast four-time Grade 1 winner and champion sprinter Mitole.

Mitole’s brilliance as a sprinter is easy to understand when you examine Indian Miss’ pedigree. Her sire, Indian Charlie, was sufficiently long-winded to win the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and place third in the Kentucky Derby, but at stud he’s been largely responsible for sprinters and milers, including juvenile champions Indian Blessing and Uncle Mo. Furthermore, Indian Miss was produced by the 5 1/2-furlong Astoria S. winner Glacken’s Gal, a daughter of champion sprinter Smoke Glacken.

Hot Rod Charlie’s speedy female family is certainly cause for pause when analyzing his chances of handling the Kentucky Derby distance. But on the other hand, mixing all this speed with Oxbow’s stout bloodlines might actually be a recipe for success.

Hot Rod Charlie has already proven his mettle over 1 3/16 miles, winning the Louisiana Derby in the track-record time of 1:55.06. Perhaps Hot Rod Charlie has come to possess the same blend of speed and stamina that made his sire so effective in the 2013 classics, in which case running another sixteenth of a mile farther on Derby Day should be right in his wheelhouse.