While several of his fellow 4-year-olds from last year’s Triple Crown trail prepare for their 2022 debuts, Hot Rod Charlie shipped to Dubai on Monday. There, he’ll run a Feb. 4 prep race before the March 26 Dubai World Cup at Meydan Race Course.

Hot Rod Charlie-Dubai Ship
Hot Rod Charlie won the 2021 Louisiana Derby, one of his two victories during his sophomore campaign. The popular colt opens his 4-year-old season in Dubai on Feb. 4, as a warm-up for the $12 million Dubai World Cup on March 26. (Image: Jamie Newell/TwinSpires)

Hot Rod Charlie prepped for the 10-furlong Dubai World Cup with a five-furlong workout on Saturday at Santa Anita. The newly minted winner of the Secretariat Vox Populi Award covered the five furlongs in 1:01.20. That was 15th of the 50 covering that distance that day.

Created by Secretariat’s late owner, Penny Chenery, the Secretariat Vox Populi Award recognizes the horse who combines popularity with the public and racing excellence.

“He’s America’s horse,” said Greg Helm of Roadrunner Racing, who co-owns the colt with Boat Racing, Gainesway Farm, and Bill Strauss.

Hot Rod Charlie revs his engines for his longest trip

“America’s horse” is now on a 16-hour, 8,300-mile odyssey to Meydan for the $12 million Dubai World Cup. Trainer Doug O’Neill said he’ll get the son of 2013 Preakness champion Oxbow one prep race as a campaign opener.

“He’s a good shipper. He absolutely loves it. He loves traveling,” O’Neill told Santa Anita’s Ed Golden. “He went fantastic in his breeze here and we’re super optimistic. We’re going one day at a time, but as we speak, he’s doing really well.”

Based at O’Neill’s Santa Anita Park barn, Hot Rod Charlie does like his travel. He won the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds last March, finished third in the Kentucky Derby, second in the Belmont Stakes, and first in the Pennsylvania Derby. He also crossed the finish line first in the Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park, but was disqualified for interference.

Mandaloun, Midnight Bourbon Part VI

Which brings us to two of Hot Rod Charlie’s Triple Crown rivals. While Hot Rod Charlie gets his Middle East bearings this weekend, two familiar foes from both the Louisiana Derby and the Haskell open their 2022 seasons at Fair Grounds. Mandaloun returns from a six-month layoff for Saturday’s Grade 3 Louisiana, where Midnight Bourbon awaits in the starting gate.

The 1 1/16-mile Louisiana marks the sixth time the two have faced each other, and the fourth time at Fair Grounds. Mandaloun holds a 3-2 edge in the rivalry, with the last meeting coming at Monmouth Park in last July’s Grade 1 Haskell. There, Mandaloun earned his first Grade 1 victory courtesy of Hot Rod Charlie’s DQ. That interference came at Midnight Bourbon’s expense.

As for Midnight Bourbon, we last saw the Preakness runner-up in November’s Clark Stakes at Churchill Downs, where he finished third. He hasn’t won in a year, since capturing the 2021 Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes. The Lecomte is the featured race on Fair Grounds’ Saturday card.