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‘Making History': Charlie Chaplin Looks to Clinch Major Series Trifecta

All eyes are on Celtic Monke Racing's Charlie Chaplin heading into this weekend's Season 15 Virtual Kentucky Derby as the three-year-old eyes history in its quest to become the first-ever Photo Finish™ horse to win three major series races in a single season.

True to his namesake, Charlie Chaplin is writing a storyline worthy of the silver screen as he races towards putting together a campaign sure to be etched in PFL lore.

After victories earlier this season in the prestigious Harbor Classic and the illustrious Artemis Cup, Charlie solidified his status as one of the most incredible virtual horses ever to grace the PFL tracks.

On the cusp of completing a rare trifecta of Season 15 major series wins, we caught up with the horse's owner ahead of the season finale.

Q: After some deliberation, in a quest to make history, you've decided to forgo the easier on-preference path in this weekend's Gallop for a chance at scoring an upset victory in the Virtual Kentucky Derby. What went into that decision?

A: I decided to go for the Derby, even if it means a slightly lower chance of winning. I'm doing it for the culture.

It's hard to say what Charlie's chances are — he certainly won't be the favorite, but he certainly has the heart to defy the odds makers.

If I had a gun to my head, I would put his chances at 5:1 to win and 3:1 to the podium. Regardless of the outcome, he has done the stable proud, and after reflecting, I have decided that what ultimately matters to me is winning the most championships.

Q: You purchased Charlie for 888,888 $DERBY back in March — a sum you've already recouped thanks to his Season 15 success. What did you see in him, and have your expectations played out?

S+ LT horses are rare and highly desirable. When I started, I wanted to make a splash on LT, but no S+ horses were listed. I reached out to larger stables, and thankfully, Tiger with Paws was willing to make a deal. I'll always be grateful.

Charlie came from a strong mare and offered a unique bloodline, free from the common aqua blood. He also had the potential to be the best offspring of Pluto, and he's likely exceeded that. I aimed for a stud that would perform well on the track and have unique stud value, and he checked both boxes.

That said, I didn't know how good he would be on the track. There is always some luck involved.

Q: Everyone wants to know: Will Saturday be the last time we see Charlie Chaplin on the tracks? 

Win or lose — Charlie Chaplin will be headed to retirement following Saturday night's Virtual Kentucky Derby.

While it was a hard decision, I see it like this — the best horses haven't been born yet, but Charlie is the best LT horse right now. He might be the best horse on the tracks next season and the season after that, but he will be eclipsed at some point. Breeding is the long game, and we will play it as of Season 16.

Retiring him now allows the stable to maximize his unprecedented string of victories. While I know the stud fee, I'll release it later.

In a year, people won't remember who was at the top of the leaderboard. They will remember the horses that made history. Charlie has made history, and his next step is to build a line of champions like Prime Time and Ovation.

With 15 or so mares ready for him internally, I can work to secure that championship line. And if others get something special, the checkbook might have to come out.

One of my big goals with Charlie will be building the best LTF horse, as he will be the best stud to cross over LDF champs to LTF.

Q: What advice would you give someone with a larger budget looking to make that significant purchase, similar to that of Charlie Chaplin?

The key is knowing your goal and accepting the risks. No one will knowingly sell you the golden ticket. But if you know your goal, you can maximize your chance of finding that ticket.

The question is where you want to compete (and be realistic with your budget). Do you want to dominate grade-restricted races, build unique bloodlines, or pursue majors?

How to achieve your goal once you pick is a more extended topic, but others and I would be happy to expand on it in the future.