147th Kentucky Derby Horse Preview: Hot Rod Charlie

'Hot Rod Charlie' is trained by Doug O'Neill who has had two horses win the Kentucky Derby.


LOUISVILLE, Ky (WTVQ) –  While all eyes are on ‘Essential Quality’ as the betting favorite for this year’s Kentucky Derby, there is one horse who’s getting plenty of buzz to contend for the first leg of the triple crown, ‘Hot Rod Charlie’.

It’s a horse who finished second to Essential Quality in November at the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Race.  He has only improved since. That improvement highlighted by a win at the Louisiana Derby.

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Trainer Doug O’Neil has already won two Kentucky Derby races, but says this one may be the most rewarding because one of the owners for Hot Rod Charlie is his nephew.  While O’Neill has had a horse with the Kentucky Derby twice, he says it’s always a different experience.

“This is even more special this time too. It’s always new and fresh and again as great as ‘I Have Another’ and ‘Nyquist’ were and are, Charlie he’s just his own individual.”

As it stands now, ‘Hot Rod Charlie’ is at 8-1 odds to win the 147th Kentucky Derby.  That’s fourth best in the field.  Having a horse who is different from his other horses who have won the race will make Saturday a completely different ride.

“That makes it fresh and exciting just coming with a new shooter that you just don’t know how he could be.”

If Hot Rod Charlie can pull off a Kentucky Derby win, he’ll be just the third Louisiana Derby winner to do so. The other two were Black Gold in 1924 and Grindstone in 1996.

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Bryan Kennedy hails from the Bluegrass State. He was born and raised in Owensboro, KY where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2006. Bryan graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Spanish in 2010. He also received his master's degree in Sports Media and Branding from Western Kentucky University. While at UK, Bryan was the general manager of the on-campus TV station. He also did sports reporting, anchoring, producing and even the weather for UK Student News Network. While working for UKSNN, he also had the pleasure of covering Coach John Calipari's first press conference when he was introduced as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; easily one of his favorite moments as a young sports reporter. Before coming to ABC 36, Bryan was a morning anchor and reporter at WXXV News 25, our sister station in Gulfport, MS. He anchored more than four hours of news every day, including morning shows on NBC and Fox. While down south, Bryan had the opportunity to cover the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. After spending a little more than two years at WXXV, Bryan is extremely excited to return home. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys playing sports, especially rugby. He also enjoys crossfitting and watching sports (obviously). He's extremely excited to cover Central Kentucky. Feel free to say hello and send story ideas toBKennedy@wtvq.com