From the Fair Grounds’ Media Team:

In a battle with Lecomte (G3) winner Midnight Bourbon from the word go, Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing and Will Strauss’ Hot Rod Charlie put that stubborn rival away in the deep stretch to post a 2-length win in the 108th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. He earned 100 qualifying points for the May 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) in the process.

Jockey Quotes:

Joel Rosario — Hot Rod Charlie (1st):

“I wanted to get a little position,” Rosario said of Hot Rod Charlie. “It didn’t look like there was much speed in the race. He broke well and in the first turn I found myself on the lead. Working with him in the morning. He relaxes and you don’t have to get him in the race. It worked out really well. He handled the distance very well. Very impressive. With the horse coming on his outside (Midnight Bourbon) he really fought back. He doesn’t have to be on the lead. He can do anything. He can be a little bit off the pace and will run the same way.”

Joe Talamo — Midnight Bourbon (2nd):

“We got a perfect trip and turning for home I had a lot of horse and I thought we had it,” Midnight Bourbon’s jockey Joe Talamo said. “We just got outfinished. Hats off to the winner, he ran huge and fought back on me. I think this distance suits this horse and I think he will be fine (going forward).”

John Velazquez — Proxy (4th):

“He kind of ran the same race (as the Risen Star),” Velazquez said. “I thought he would be more aggressive but by the time I got to the backstretch I had to ride him again. He took me to the first turn like he was going to go really good and we got to the backstretch, he got off the bridle. You have to ride him. He came to the quarter-pole and then kind of flattened down the lane.”

Florent Geroux — Mandaloun (6th):

“He was a little flat today and I ran out of gas late,” Geroux said. “I’m disappointed. I had the same trip I had the first two times (in the Lecomte and Risen Star). I was tracking the horses that ran 1-2 and, for some reason, just came up really empty when it was time to run. It’s disappointing. That’s why these preps are made, to see where you are at for the Derby. Off that effort I really don’t know what he’ll do. He’s already in (the Kentucky Derby), but I don’t know. He was traveling great on the backside, I almost thought I had to slow him down because he was doing so good. But when it was time to run, he just didn’t have it.”

Trainer Quotes:

Patrick O’Neill — nephew of trainer Doug O’Neill — Hot Rod Charlie:

“We are so extremely blessed,” said Patrick O’Neill, the nephew of two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer Doug O’Neill, on behalf of Boat Racing. “I just missed a phone call from Doug and Dennis (O’Neill) my uncles. It’s a family affair, but we added friends and we couldn’t be more fortunate. What an amazing horse. An amazing sport. We’re going to the Kentucky Derby, hopefully, ya know.”

Greg Foley — O Besos (3rd):

“He answered that distance question today,” Foley said. “He galloped out in front. It would have been nice to finish second. We sure have to think about it (the Kentucky Derby). The biggest thing was would he go that far, and I think he answered the ground question as good or better than any of them in there.”

Michael Stidham — Proxy (4th):

“Very confusing,” Stidham added. “We’ll go back to the barn and take a look at him. The blinkers did not improve him. You could see Johnny getting after him at the half-mile pole, the same as last time (in the Risen Star), when he had to remind him ‘let’s go.’ This time, he made a little bit of run but seemed to flatten out the last part of it.”

Brad cox — Mandaloun (6th):

“He was flat and we’re disappointed,” Cox admitted. “There’s no other way to say it. I don’t know. Obviously, this is a nice horse that won the race and he backed up Essential Quality’s form pretty good. I was happy with the trip. He was 3-wide and stalking the winner but at the half-mile pole it looked like we were in trouble. I have no excuse right now, we’ll just have to see. It’s frustrating but it’s part of it. I can’t ask him to train any better and I don’t think I would have done anything different. We’ll just regroup.”