A near-tragic incident in the stretch overshadowed a thrilling finish to Saturday’s $1,005,000 Haskell S. (G1) at Monmouth Park, and Hot Rod Charlie’s role in the former resulted in his disqualification from first after he narrowly edged Mandaloun at the wire.
Shortly after passing the eighth pole, Hot Rod Charlie, the 4-5 favorite, drifted in front of a tiring Midnight Bourbon, causing the latter to click heels and lose his balance. Midnight Bourbon barely managed to stay on his feet, though jockey Paco Lopez was not as lucky and hit the track. Lopez took off his mounts the rest of the card, but was expected to ride Sunday.
In the final furlong and a half, old rivals Hot Rod Charlie and Mandaloun battled stride for stride, and at the finish Hot Rod Charlie had his nose in front. However, track stewards had a relatively easy decision to demote Hot Rod Charlie to last place in the field of seven three-year-olds.
Awarded the win, and an automatic bid into the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar in November, Mandaloun, who paid $8.20 with Florent Geroux aboard. The Juddmonte Farms homebred had also won a photo finish in the June 13 Pegasus S. at Monmouth by a neck in his most recent start.
“This horse ran a big race,” trainer Brad Cox said of Mandaloun. “Having the race over the track paid off today. He sat a good trip saving all the ground, punched on down the lane, and finished up well.”
Following Sea, who set the pace and crossed the wire more than 18 lengths behind Mandaloun, was elevated to second following the disqualification. Antigravity, a 56-1 chance was promoted to third. The official order of finish was rounded out by Pickin’ Time, Basso, Midnight Bourbon, and Hot Rod Charlie.
When the dust settles, the Haskell could potentially be the second Grade 1 awarded Mandaloun via disqualification this year. He crossed the wire second in the Kentucky Derby (G1) behind Medina Spirit, who later tested positive for an excess amount of betamethasone. Medina Spirit has not been officially disqualified from first in the Derby, though, and adjudication of the race’s result continues.
A winner of both starts at two, Mandaloun turned in three preps for the Kentucky Derby at Fair Grounds. Third to Midnight Bourbon in the Lecomte (G3), he rebounded to defeat that foe in the Risen Star (G2) when adding blinkers. However, he was a dull sixth in the Louisiana Derby (G2) won by Hot Rod Charlie, but out-finished that rival by a half-length in the Kentucky Derby in their last meeting.
Cox said Mandaloun would ship to Saratoga on Sunday to prepare for either the Aug. 29 Travers (G1) or the Sept. 25 Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx. Mandaloun’s record currently stands at 8-5-1-1, $1,651,252.
By Into Mischief, the Kentucky-bred Mandaloun is out of the Group 2-winning Brooch, by Empire Maker.