With a furlong to go in Saturday's $150,000 Jerome S. (G2) at Aqueduct, ADIOS CHARLIE (Indian Charlie) looked destined to fill the runner-up slot as Justin Phillip (First Samurai) had made a sweeping move to the lead off the turn and forged ahead by a length. No sooner had that thought crossed the minds of most objective observers than Justin Phillip began to shorten stride despite being under strong urging from Ramon Dominguez. Taking advantage of the situation, Adios Charlie re-rallied inside of an empty Justin Phillip and pulled away late to take the historic one-mile fixture, being run at Aqueduct for the first time since 1967, by 2 1/2 lengths. The final time over the sloppy going was 1:36 4/5.
Breaking on top in the field of eight from the widest point, Adios Charlie relinquished the lead before leaving the chute and settled into a pace-pressing position outside 2-1 favorite Cal Nation (Distorted Humor). That rival had a half-length advantage through a quarter in :23 1/5 and a half in :47, and the pair were closely followed by 2-1 second choice Astrology (A.P. Indy) along the inside and the 5-1 Justin Phillip outside.
Approaching the quarter pole, Justin Phillip ranged up to join the two longtime leaders while under very minimal urging and appeared to be going best of the entire field. He moved ahead by a half-length as the six-furlong mark was reached in 1:11 4/5, with Adios Charlie holding second and Cal Nation beating a steady retreat. Until just inside the eighth pole Justin Phillip looked to have the race under control, but he simply failed to stay on as Adios Charlie came back and a resurgent Astrology also came on late to beat Justin Phillip for second by a neck.
"I didn't want to move with (Justin Phillip) early," winning jockey Rajiv Maragh said. "Going into the turn he started ranging up pretty strong and I felt like the best thing was to not go all out at that point of the race. I felt like if I went with him and we both started slowing up at the end, someone might beat us both. I just tried to ride my horse and I didn't feel like it was the right time to go when Justin Phillip moved. So, I just waited a little more and then I made my stretch run and my horse had a lot left in the end. He was running well within himself all the way down the backstretch, so I felt like he was going to give me a lot in the stretch."
Adios Charlie, the 6-1 fifth choice, paid $14.60, $6.30 and $4.90 while capping the $61.50 exacta and $266.50 trifecta. The 8-1-7-5 superfecta with 3-1 third choice Rattlesnake Bridge (Tapit) paid $1,080. The order of finish was completed by Isn't He Perfect (Pleasantly Perfect), Starship Caesar (Repent), Gallant Dreams (Bernardini) and Cal Nation.
"That was a big thrill, I thought he ran great," said trainer Stan Hough, who co-owns Adios Charlie with Robert Sahn. "The timing worked out. As for what's next, we'll have to talk about it. I didn't nominate him to the Triple Crown, but obviously the Preakness (S. [G1] on May 21) is a thought. There's also the Peter Pan (S. [G2] on May 14). There are a lot of options for three-year-olds. We'll try to make the right decision. Obviously he's got some talent and hopefully he'll move forward."
The lightly-raced Adios Charlie finished second by a length in his debut at Belmont Park last October, but did not reappear under colors until March 30 in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden at Gulfstream. Dispatched as the prohibitive 1-2 favorite, Adios Charlie posted a comfortable 6 3/4-length triumph under Maragh. This second win from three career starts boosted his lifetime earnings to $134,040.
Bred in Florida by Brylynn Farm, Adios Charlie was a $400,000 OBS March two-year-old in training purchase. He was produced by the stakes-winning Teak Totem (Northern Afleet), a full sister to this year's Gulfstream Park Turf S. (G1) winner Teaks North, who finished fourth in the April 14 Irish Tower S. over Aqueduct's main track. Teak Totem also counts as a half-brother multiple Grade 2 winner Wooden Phone (Pick Up the Phone).
In addition to Adios Charlie, Teak Totem has reared the Canadian stakes-placed Streakin' Mohican (Songandaprayer), a yearling colt by Smoke Glacken and a 2011 colt by Midnight Lute.