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OCEANPORT, NJ – Juddmonte Farms homebred Mandaloun wasn’t flashy by any means, but the heavily-favored Brad Cox trainee got the job done and won Sunday’s $150,000 TVG.com Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park.
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Mandaloun and jockey Florent Geroux exited post 2 as the 1/5 top choice in the field of five 3-year-old males but had to steady shortly thereafter when Dr Jack came down from his outside and pinched him against the rail-breaking Brooklyn Strong.
Now last entering the clubhouse turn, Geroux let Mandaloun get comfortable while longshot Lugamo posted opening fractions of :24.67 and :48.61.
“I didn’t want to rush him,” Geroux said. “He was nice and relaxed during the race. It was nice to see that he was able to settle down on his own… The important thing was not to rush him too hard (after the start).”
Advancing behind Dr Jack entering the far turn, Mandaloun tipped out to attack three-wide as Dr Jack dove to the inside of new leader Weyburn, who drifted off the corner and lost momentum.
Mandaloun hit the front end with over a furlong remaining and initially dispatched of his rivals, but he appeared to slow down once he lost sight of them.
Weyburn re-rallied late under jockey Dylan Davis, but his efforts came up just short as Mandaloun crossed a neck clear, completing the 1 1/16-mile fast dirt route in 1:44.63.
“I had a lot of horse,” Geroux said. “He was passing horses one by one. At the end, when he made the lead, maybe he was looking around a little. It was a new thing for him, not having the whip for encouragement. I saw (Weyburn) coming inside of us, but (Mandaloun) was still running pretty good at the end. He had to work for it, but I don’t think it was a really hard race on him. He did not come back blowing hard at all.”
Weyburn was 2 1/2 lengths clear of Dr Jack in second.
“Once (Mandaloun) passed me by a length and a 1/2, Weyburn actually re-rallied again and I said, ‘Oh I got to get going again,’” Davis said. “Once he re-rallied, I thought we were going to go by and he was making a great run to get back up. I thought he was going to get back for sure. He just missed it, but I like that encouragement and that competitiveness where he was able to fight him a little more and push back.”
Brooklyn Strong and Lugamo completed the order of finish.
Mandaloun’s win followed his runner-up Kentucky Derby (G1) finish that may or may not become a victory, pending the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s decision regarding the original winner’s positive post-race drug test. The Into Mischief colt’s record currently stands at 7-4-1-1 with $1,051,252 earned.
“Overall, it was a big effort,” Cox said. “I think he closed into a soft pace. He probably had to start his run a touch early, given the fact that he was last. He ran a big race. Florent made the comment that he may have been looking around late, but he made the lead by himself. Overall, it was a good effort for him to ship over here.”
Mandaloun returned $2.60 to win, $2.10 to place, and $2.10 to show. Weyburn brought back $3 to place and $2.20 to show. Dr Jack paid $2.60 to show.
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