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OCEANPORT, NJ – Juddmonte Farms homebred Mandaloun was named the race winner after Hot Rod Charlie was disqualified for causing interference mid-stretch in Saturday’s $1 million TVG.com Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park.
The Haskell is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Mandaloun receiving an automatic berth in the Classic at Del Mar this November.
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Following Sea set the pace from the rail as expected and experienced Midnight Bourbon applying immediate pressure to his outside through opening fractions of :23.82, :47.32, and 1:10.64. Hot Rod Charlie sat third and Mandaloun fourth down the backstretch.
Midnight Bourbon took the lead midway through the far turn but soon came under fire from Hot Rod Charlie to his outside. Meanwhile, Mandaloun’s ground-saving trip under Florent Geroux put him in prime position to surge up the rail at the top of the stretch.
Jockey Flavien Prat pushed Hot Rod Charlie to the lead near the 1/8 pole when he crossed over before safely clearing Midnight Bourbon, causing that horse to clip heels and stumble, dismounting jockey Paco Lopez in the process.
“I am really proud of his effort,” said Prat, who later apologized to Lopez for the incident. “He just clipped my heels. That’s it.”
Hot Rod Charlie continued battling with Mandaloun, who refused to quit but ultimately came up a nose short on the wire. Hot Rod Charlie and jockey Flavien Prat completed the 1 1/8-mile fast dirt route in 1:47.38.
“I had my sights on Hot Rod Charlie,” Geroux said. “When Hot Rod Charlie tipped out, I decided to go inside. It was a very hard battle. Hot Rod Charlie was going to win by a neck, and right at the end, my horse came back and made it really close. … Honestly, I didn’t know what happened until I came back and looked at the TV. It is not the best way to win, but Mandaloun ran a winning race and deserves this.”
Midnight Bourbon quickly regathered himself after the incident and resumed running riderless to take third over Following Sea, who checked hard to avoid trampling Lopez. Antigravity, Pickin’ Time, and Basso completed the order of finish in the field of 3-year-olds.
Shortly after the race’s conclusion, the stewards held an inquiry into the stretch run incident. The stewards ruled that Hot Rod Charlie had impeded Midnight Bourbon and disqualified the Doug O’Neill trainee, placing him last.
“My horse kicked me in the knee,” Lopez said post-race of the fall. “I felt pain in my tendon there and I couldn’t move my leg for about 10 minutes, but I am fine now. I can bend my knee again. I think I would have won that race. I had my horse in the right position to win. I was fighting back, but my horse had a lot of run left, so I think I could have won that race.”
Mandaloun’s win was his second at the graded stakes level following February’s Risen Star Stakes (G2) and improved the Into Mischief colt’s record to 8-5-1-1 with $1,651,252 earned. Cox said post-race that there were no immediate plans next, other than keeping the Classic as the ultimate year-end goal.
“I thought we ran a winning race,” Cox said. “Didn’t have our nose down at the wire, but all and all, it worked out. I’m proud of the effort and the performance. He’s always been a good colt, he has always been highly thought of. He deserves a Grade 1 victory. He’s a Grade 1 horse and I’m glad it worked out today.”
Mandaloun returned $8.20 to win, $4 to place, and $3.20 to show. Following Sea brought back $5 to place and $3.80 to show. Antigravity paid $7.80 to show.
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