Trouble early and idling late made it a bit interesting, but 3-10 favorite Mandaloun got the job done in Sunday’s $147,500 Pegasus S. at Monmouth Park. Holding a resurgent Weyburn by a neck at the wire, the Brad Cox trainee accomplished his objective of prepping for the July 17 Haskell S. (G1).
Mandaloun, making his first start since just missing in the Kentucky Derby (G1), found himself in an unfavorable position much of the way. The Juddmonte homebred was steadied and shuffled back to last early when jockey Florent Geroux had to ease out of tight quarters. As a result, he was further behind a tepid pace.
Meanwhile, Weyburn was working out the ideal trip. The 4.90-1 second choice was perched right off the flank of longshot Lugamo through fractions of :24.67 and :48.61. When Weyburn put Lugamo away and threatened to open up passing six furlongs in 1:12.41, Mandaloun had to get moving.
The favorite responded to Geroux’s cue with a powerful advance leaving the far turn. Weyburn hung him out wide into the stretch, but the maneuver couldn’t slow down Mandaloun’s momentum. No sooner had he drawn alongside Weyburn in the stretch than he pulled away.
But Mandaloun thought he had done enough. With Monmouth’s strict restrictions on the use of the whip, Geroux could only urge him on with an energetic hand ride. As Mandaloun was thinking about things, Weyburn kicked into another gear on the inside and suddenly posed a danger. Mandaloun remained in control, although Weyburn was getting nearer to an upset with every stride.
Dr Jack, who briefly vied with Weyburn for second, checked in another 2 1/2 lengths back in third. There was a long gap back to fourth-placer Brooklyn Strong, and Lugamo was tailed off in last.
Cox and Geroux were pleased with Mandaloun’s overcoming adversity.
“We didn’t expect that (being shuffled back at the start),” Cox said. “We thought he might be on the lead or tracking a couple. We found ourselves last going into the first turn. But overall it was a big effort. 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.”
Geroux was mindful of keeping the colt settled after the early trouble.
“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 and everything worked out great. The important thing was not to rush him too hard (after the start).
“I had a lot of horse. 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 the other horse (Weyburn) coming inside of us. But he was still running pretty good at the end.”
By covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.63, Mandaloun became a millionaire with $1,051,252 in earnings from a 7-4-1-1 line. His prior stakes victory came in the Risen Star S. (G2) at Fair Grounds, where he was also third in the Lecomte S. (G3) and a baffling sixth in the Louisiana Derby (G2). The Kentucky Derby runner-up would inherit the win if the first-past-the-post Medina Spirit is disqualified for his positive postrace test.
The Kentucky-bred is by leading sire Into Mischief and out of Group 2 vixen Brooch, an Empire Maker mare from the immediate family of Irish highweight Emulous.