Express Train Derails Hot Rod Charlie In San Antonio – Horse Racing News

Express Train Derails Hot Rod Charlie In San Antonio – Horse Racing News

Express Train and Juan Hernandez winning the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar.

With a perfectly timed ride by Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza, CRK Stable LLC’s Express Train was up in the final jump to defeat 1-5 favorite Hot Rod Charlie in Sunday’s Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes on the opening day of the Santa Anita meet in Arcadia, Calif.

Eight Rings, who set the pace and gave way begrudgingly in the final sixteenth of a mile, finished third, with Go On fourth and Azul Coast fifth in the field of seven 3-year-olds and up.

Express Train paid $16.40 after covering 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.82.

This was the fifth win in 15 career starts for Express Train and third in a G2 race after victories earlier this year in the San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita and San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. A 4-year-old colt by Union Rags out of I’m a Flake, by Mineshaft, Express Train was bred in Kentucky by Dixiana Farm LLC, Express Train was a $500,000 yearling purchase.

Express Train was entered in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 6 at Del Mar but scratched from the race after suffering a minor injury to his hock while schooling in the paddock earlier in the week.

In the San Antonio, Espinoza put Express Train in a good position down toward the inside while Eight Rings set fractions of :23.87, :47.37 and 1:11.89 for the opening six furlongs.

Doug O’Neill-trained Hot Rod Charlie, a 3-year-old by Oxbow who ran fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic after winning the G1 Pennsylvania Derby, was pushed to challenge Eight Rings approaching the far turn. Espinoza took that move as a cue to switch Express Train to the outside and had dead aim on the leading duo as the field rounded the stretch turn.

Hot Rod Charlie put his head in front of Eight Rings after passing the furlong pole, covering a mile in 1:37.97, but Express Train and Espinoza, racing to their outside, had all the momentum and got up in the final yards.

“The last two races he did not break well,” said Lee Searing, who with wife Susan operates C R K Stable. Searing was referring to a sixth-place finish in the G1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August and a third-place finish in the G1 Awesome Again at Santa Anita in October. “Victor did a great job. He’s a really good horse when he’s a stalker, when he gets to the outside.”