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Magic and Aaron recap Mandaloun edging familiar foe Midnight Bourbon late to win Saturday’s Louisiana Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds, then discuss who they like moving forward, including any potential longshots. Did the showdown between Mandaloun and Midnight Bourbon live up to the hype or what?!
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The track press release:
In 2021 as 3-year-olds, Juddmonte’s Mandaloun and Winchell Thoroughbred’s Midnight Bourbon faced each other on five occasions with the former holding the upper hand. In Saturday’s $150,000 Louisiana (G3) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots they met yet again, this time as older horses, and once again the verdict landed in Mandaloun’s favor.
Running for the first time since winning the Haskell (G1) via the disqualification of Hot Rod Charlie on July 17, Mandaloun returned to the scene of his Lecomte (G3) defeat to Midnight Bourbon virtually one year ago to the day. A lot has happened between then and now, but based on the Saturday’s result, the connections of both horses have a lot to look forward to.
Away alertly from the rail post with regular pilot Florent Geroux in tow, the .90-1 favorite Mandaloun sat third in the pocket behind the newly blinkered Midnight Bourbon, who set a reasonable pace of 24.39 and 48.25 as the defined second choice (1.20-1). Taking over the pursuers roll from the fading Sprawl with a half mile yet to run while well in hand, the son of Into Mischief collared Midnight Bourbon just outside the quarter-pole, and one heck of a battle raged from there. The Brad Cox-trained Mandaloun slowly wore down his stubborn rival, edging away late to prevail by ¾ of a length in a sharp final time of 1:42.52 for the 1 1/16 mile journey, which was nearly a second faster than the 3-year-old Call Me Midnight ran in the Lecomte (G3) one race later. It was another 8 ¼ lengths back to Warrant, Cox’s other Louisiana entrant, in third.
“Very pleased with him, it was what we were expecting,” Geroux said. “There was a long layoff and we had to run a very good horse down in front of us. The first thing I thought coming back from the race was that he was a lot sharper mentally. Last year I felt he had a lot more in him but he was not willing to give it to me, but in this race when I pushed the button and turned on the gas, he was right there for me. The first asking, the first time I hit him with a stick, he just responded very well right away. I thought we were finishing very fast at the end and that was a very nice horse race.”
Midnight Bourbon, who hasn’t won since last year’s Lecomte, ran his losing streak to nine consecutive races. Trainer Steve Asmussen added blinkers hoping the equipment change would help the 4-year-old son of Tiznow take his game to the next level. It very well might have, but on this day, he was narrowly second best in a valiant performance.
“He has speed, he’s fast, he broke nice, he did everything right,” Rosario said. “It felt like we were running. He felt nice and focused. That was a fast race. That was a really good race. Second best today.”
The winner of last year’s Risen Star (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford and the eventual runner-up in the Kentucky Derby, Mandaloun is now a boasts a record of 9-6-1-1 with $1,721,252 in the bank.
“This is a very big colt for them and I hope he’ll have a big 2022,” trainer Brad Cox said of Mandaloun. “I think he is very polished mentally. Physically he is definitely better than he was last year. He’s grown he’s filled out. He’s supposed to, he’s a year older. I think he took a big step forward off a layoff and ran down a very good horse that was on the lead. Hopefully we can build off this if we are going to have the year we are expecting to have.”
As far as future plans go, the $20 million Saudi Cup on February 26 has been mentioned.
“We’ll let the dust settle and we’ll hit the huddle up (with Juddmonte) and come up with a game plan but it (the Saudi Cup) is very possible. He is a good colt. I always thought this horse would really like one turn if we ever shorten him back up. The Saudi Cup is 1 1/18 mile so it’s something I think he can definitely handle. I am excited to get this race underneath him. Take a deep breath now. Running a horse off a layoff sometimes can be a little nerve wracking but overall, it was a good performance. I am very proud of this horse.”
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