Tag: Doug O’Neill

Mackinnon has been a turf force in his six races. Now, he tries dirt for the first time in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park. (Image: Benoit Photo)

When it Comes to the Derby, Nothing Phony About These Sham Stakes

Unlike many of its early Kentucky Derby prep predecessors, Saturday’s Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park brings the recent Derby chops with it. How recent? How about the last two Derby champions? The one-mile Sham, which offers 10-4-2-1 Derby qualifying points to the top four finishers, gave you […]

Hot Rod Charlie, seen turning away Midnight Bourbon in September's Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, comes into Sunday's San Antonio Stakes as the 6/5 morning-line favorite. (Image: Equi-Photo)

Hot Rod Charlie Making Final 3-Year-Old Stand at the San Antonio

First, it was blinkers off for Hot Rod Charlie. Then, blinkers on for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Now, the colt will finish his 3-year-old season in Sunday’s Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita without blinkers. This is a case of trainer Doug O’Neill going back to what worked […]

Messier and Flavien Prat controlled the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes last month at Del Mar. Oddsmakers make the pair a 1/2 morning-line choice to give Bob Baffert his eighth consecutive Los Alamitos Futurity title. (Image: Benoit Photo)

Los Alamitos Futurity: The Race Bob Baffert Made His Own

The Bob Baffert Invitational, otherwise known as the Los Alamitos Futurity, goes off on Saturday as the penultimate day of Los Alamitos’ short Thoroughbred Winter Meet. And as you would expect, the 1 1/16-mile test for 2-year-olds has that usual Baffert flavor to it. There’s Messier, the prohibitive 1/2 favorite. […]

Hot Rod Charlie earned his first Grade 1 win with this solid September score in the Pennsylvania Derby. He is the 4/1 third-favorite to win Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic. (Image: Parx Racing)

Hot Rod Charlie’s Breeders’ Cup Journey: From Footnote to Headliner

The last time Hot Rod Charlie arrived at the Breeders’ Cup, he was a 94/1 afterthought in a Juvenile field that included favored Jackie’s Warrior, eventual winner Essential Quality and the highly regarded Keepmeinmind, among other “name” 2-year-olds. Name? Hot Rod Charlie had only that cool moniker going for him. […]

Hot Rod Charlie and trainer Doug O'Neill get a prime opportunity to win their first Grade 1 in Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby at Parx. (Image: Sarah Andrew)

Hot Rod Charlie and Midnight Bourbon Seek Grade 1 Glory in Penn Derby

The Pennsylvania Derby, your traditional last major 3-year-old race of the season, returns after a COVID-related year absence. And the Penn Derby returns, asking the pressing question concerning a couple of decorated sophomore runners: Will either Hot Rod Charlie or Midnight Bourbon finally get that elusive Grade 1 victory? If […]

Louisiana Derby winner Hot Rod Charlie hasn't finished worse than third in his last six races. He looks for his first Grade 1 victory as the 6/5 favorite in Saturday's Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park. (Image: Jamie Newell/TwinSpires.com)

A Triple Crown Placers War by the Jersey Shore Headlines Haskell Stakes

The first thought that comes to mind when you see Mandaloun, Midnight Bourbon and Hot Rod Charlie lined up as the three headliners for Saturday’s Grade 1 Haskell Stakes is that deja-vu sense of familiarity. You’ve seen these three clash repeatedly, but there’s something else about them that stands out. […]

Defunded owns only this maiden special weight win in five starts. But the gelding is the 3/5 favorite to win Sunday's Grade 3 Los Alamitos Derby. (Image: Ernie Belmonte)

As Usual, Los Alamitos Derby Discussion Begins With Baffert

Someone in this small, but scrappy, Los Alamitos Derby field is going to earn what has heretofore been a difficult achievement for them: a stakes victory.  And as usual in this race, Bob Baffert has the upper hand. Baffert sends out both 3/5 favorite Defunded and 5/2 second-favorite Classier into […]

Essential Quality (left) and Hot Rod Charlie separated themselves from their 3-year-old rivals at Saturday's Belmont Stakes. Both came out of the 1 1/2-mile race set for future summer contests. (Image: Al Bello/Getty)

Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie Ready For More After Belmont Stakes

Even after Hot Rod Charlie reeled off record early fractions, and even after Essential Quality caught and passed him in the stretch, both leading protagonists from Saturday’s Belmont Stakes came out of their 1 ½-mile “Test of the Champion” in fine form. “He looks amazing. It doesn’t look like he […]

Hot Rod Charlie hit the board in his last five races: two wins, a second and two thirds. Four of those came in graded stakes races, making him a legitimate Belmont Stakes threat. (Image: Benoit Photo)

Back to Being a Real Test: Breaking Down the 2021 Belmont Stakes

The 153rd Belmont Stakes wraps up an unpredictable 2021 Triple Crown season with what should be the best race of the three for horseplayers. If 12/1 Medina Spirit winning the Kentucky Derby was a shock to the handicapper’s system, what was 11/1 Rombauer winning the Preakness Stakes? Two horses considered […]

Essential Quality's Blue Grass Stakes wire victory over Highly Motivated was the Champion 2-Year-Old's fifth consecutive win. After finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby, the colt seeks to rebound as the 2/1 morning-line favorite in the 153rd Belmont Stakes. (Image: Kentuckyderby.com)

Essential Quality Returns to Triple Crown Trail as Belmont Stakes Favorite

Essential Quality duplicated the favorite status he enjoyed for the Kentucky Derby five weeks ago, taking 2/1 morning-line favorite odds into Saturday’s 153rd Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Tuesday morning’s Belmont Stakes draw put the Brad Cox-trained, Tapit progeny in post 2. He’s one of four Grade 1 winners and […]

If Flavien Prat celebrates after the Belmont, he'll do it on a different horse than Preakness winner Rombauer. Prat takes the reins of Hot Charlie for the Belmont Stakes. He rode Hot Rod Charlie in the Kentucky Derby. (Image: Patrick Smith/Getty)

Belmont Musical Jockeys: Prat Trades Rombauer for Hot Rod Charlie

Trainer Doug O’Neill, who proved his nimbleness by quickly securing Flavien Prat’s jockey services for the Kentucky Derby, proved them once again for the Belmont Stakes. He said Prat will ride the Derby’s third-place runner in the June 5 Belmont Stakes. That, of course, means Michael McCarthy needs to find […]

Bob Baffert said Medina Spirit was his most improbable Kentucky Derby winner. The Hall of Fame trainer said Medina Spirit came out of the Derby well and is likely for the Preakness Stakes. (Image: Churchill Downs/Coady Photography)

Medina Spirit Comes Out of Derby Well, Likely for Preakness

Less than a day after Medina Spirit’s remarkable Kentucky Derby victory, trainer Bob Baffert said he’s on track for the May 15 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. Tentatively. “He came out of it well. It takes about a week to determine, so I’m going to come back next weekend and see,” […]

The Kentucky Derby is only Rock Your World's second start on dirt. He is the fastest horse in the field based on speed figures. (Image: Churchill Downs/Coady Photography)

Almost Back to Normalcy: Breaking Down the 2021 Kentucky Derby

Welcome to the 2021 Kentucky Derby. And welcome back to what a normal Kentucky Derby looks like. Almost. The crowds? Well, they’re back – about 40,000. That’s a quarter of what normally turns Churchill Downs into a sporting bacchanalia. But there’s people in the stands. We’ll take it. The horses? […]

Hot Rod Charlie owns the second-fastest Beyer Speed Figure of anyone in the Kentucky Derby field. His trainer, Doug O'Neill, owns two Kentucky Derby victories in the last nine years. (Image: Ernie Belmonte)

Hot Rod Charlie Roars to Life for Kentucky Derby Vet O’Neill

Doug O’Neill already has two of these Kentucky Derbies on the mantle, both with colts he planned on taking to Churchill Downs —  I’ll Have Another and Nyquist. But when Hot Rod Charlie came to his Santa Anita Park barn as a $110,000 yearling purchase, the trainer looked at his […]

Tuesday morning's draw for the 2021 Kentucky Derby from post 20 Bourbonic to post 1 Known Agenda. Those are two of trainer Todd Pletcher's four entries in Saturday's Run for the Roses. (Image: Churchill Downs)

Essential Quality Opens as 2/1 Favorite for 147th Kentucky Derby

As expected, Essential Quality checked in as the 2/1 morning-line favorite for the 147th Kentucky Derby. And Tuesday’s post-position Derby draw sends the undefeated colt and his favorite status into post 14 for Saturday’s 2021 Triple Crown opener. As he watched the posts fill up on Tuesday morning, this put […]

Hot Rod Charlie pulled away from Midnight Bourbon and the rest of the Louisiana Derby field for a two-length victory that clinched him a spot in the Kentucky Derby. (Image: Jamie Newell/Twin Spires)

How Hot Rod Charlie Brought One Small Syndicate to the Derby

In October 2019, Greg Helm took a call that changed his horse racing ownership life forever. On the other end was bloodstock agent Dennis O’Neill, brother to trainer Doug O’Neill, with a proposition for Helm and the rest of his small Roadrunner Racing syndicate. “He asked me if I wanted […]

Mike Smith and Life Is Good are your odds-on favorites to win Saturday's Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. (Image: Benoit Photo)

San Felipe Stakes: Where Life Is Good to Bob Baffert

The Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes marks the point of the year where Bob Baffert’s endless 3-year-old depth finally makes him compete with himself. Yes, he’s sent out Life Is Good and Medina Spirit in the Sham. Yes, we saw Concert Tour nip Freedom Fighter in the San Vicente. But […]

Yes, Essential Quality is No. 1 in the Kentucky Derby Future Pool 4. The Tapit colt opens at 7/2 when the KDFW's Pool 4 begins Friday. (Image: Coady Photography)

No Surprise: Essential Quality Opens as 7/2 Favorite in KDFW Pool 4

Essential Quality turned his Southwest Stakes victory on Saturday into 7/2 favored status for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) Pool 4. The KDFW’s Pool 4 runs concurrently with the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager’s sole pool. Clariere opens as the 5/1 favorite for that pool. The KDFW opens Friday at […]