Equibase Analysis: Shirl's Speight Can Upset Hot Rod Charlie In Salvator Mile - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Equibase Analysis: Shirl’s Speight Can Upset Hot Rod Charlie In Salvator Mile

Owner-breeder Charles Fipke leads Shirl’s Speight to the winner’s circle following the Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland

All eyes will be on likely prohibitive betting favorite Hot Rod Charlie in the Grade 3, $150,000 Salvator Mile Stakes on Saturday at Monmouth Park, not only because he leads the field, by far, with career earnings of $5.1 million, but also because he's become a fan favorite. A lot of that has to do with his heart, because even though he has four runner-up finishes in his career to go along with four wins, he never quits trying. When last seen, he finished second in the Group 1 $12 million Dubai World Cup in March.

Next in terms of accomplishments is Mind Control, who has banked $1.4 million, his most recent victory coming at the distance of the Salvator Mile last fall in the Parx Dirt Mile Stakes. Shirl's Speight is another stakes winner, but on grass, having most recently won the G1 Maker's Mark Mile in April. Helium won the G2 Tampa Bay Derby in 2021 before an eighth-place finish in that year's Kentucky Derby and is winless in five races since then.

Phat Man has won nine times in his career but is another winless since last year, July to be exact, when taking the Battery Park Stakes. Mohaafeth finished second when sprinting in the Frank Y. Whitely Stakes in April and is trying to earn his first win in a two-turn race. Confessor leads the field with 11 career wins but is trying to win a stakes race for the first time.

Analysis and top contenders:

In terms of class, only Hot Rod Charlie and Shirl's Speight have won at the top Grade 1 stakes level in their careers. Helium and Mind Control are both Grade 2 winners, but Helium's win came 15 months ago and against 3-year-olds only in the 2021 Tampa Bay Derby so he appears to have much less probability to win than the other three, particularly as he has finished second twice in a row this year in allowance level races and as the heavy favorite.

Of the trio, I have to give Shirl's Speight slight preference because it's highly likely he will offer better value for a win bet as compared to Hot Rod Charlie. Shirl's Speight has won five of 10 races in his career, including the Tampa Bay Stakes this past February with a then career-best 105 ™ Equibase® Speed Figure, followed by a visually impressive victory in the Maker's Mark Mile in April with a 110 figure. Nine of his 10 races have come on turf or all-weather and the only time he ran on conventional dirt like he is doing here he finished fifth. However, that was a sprint and he's not a sprinter. He followed that effort up with 11 months away from the races so it's not relevant in my opinion.

Shirl's Speight loves running about a mile, where his record is four for seven. Jockey Emma Wilson, who rode him to victory in the Tampa Bay Stakes, comes down from Woodbine to ride him while foregoing an entire day of mounts at her home track. Although fourth in the Turf Classic Stakes when last seen in May, not only was the mile and one-eighth distance a bit too far for Shirl's Speight, the race has turned out to be a very productive “key” race from which three of the other eight have won and another finished second including the one-two finishers in the Manhattan Stakes last weekend. Being a son of Speightstown, who has had eight different sons or daughters win stakes race on conventional dirt, I believe Shirl's Speight can run as well as he did on grass in the Maker's Mark Mile and win this year's Salvator Mile Stakes.

There's no doubt Hot Rod Charlie can win this race by repeating any of his last seven efforts going back to his runner-up finish in the 2021 Belmont Stakes. He won the Haskell Stakes at Monmouth one month later but was disqualified before winning the Pennsylvania Derby last fall with authority and a career-best 117 ™ figure. This year he missed by a nose in the San Antonia Stakes before travelling to Dubai and winning the Al Maktoum Challenge. Next, in the Dubai World Cup, showing all his heart Hot Rod Charlie never gave up and finished second in a strong field of 10. Rested nearly three months and working very well at his home based in southern California, Hot Rod Charlie may need only repeat any of his last three efforts to win.

Mind Control has won nine of 25 races so is definitely no slouch. Known primarily as a sprinter, nevertheless he has won twice and finished second in the other of his last three races at this mile trip. The most recent of those came last September in the Parx Dirt Mile Stakes where he earned a 107 figure which might be competitive with the top two contenders. Most recently he finished a well-beaten third in the Carter Handicap and in the Churchill Downs Stakes but those were grade one events compared to this grade three level. If Mind Control can run back to his last mile effort he could be competitive here.

The rest of the field, with their best ™ Equibase Speed Figures, is Confessor (107), Helium (97), Mohaafeth (105) and Phat Man (115).

Win Contenders:
Shirl's Speight
Hot Rod Charlie
Mind Control

Salvator Mile Stakes – Grade 3
Race 14 at Monmouth
Saturday, June 18 – Post Time 6:15 PM E.T.
One Mile
Three Year Olds and Upward
Purse: $150,000

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