OCEANPORT, N.J. — Kentucky Derby runner-up Mandaloun was involved in another controversial finish, awarded the $1 million Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park on Saturday after apparent winner Hot Rod Charlie veered in the stretch and caused Midnight Bourbon and his jockey to take a scary fall.
Midnight Bourbon recovered from a tumble to the track and ran off uninjured, the on-call vet at the Jersey Shore track said. Jockey Paco Lopez was put on board and removed form the track in an ambulance. Lopez said he was OK after the race.
The track stewards immediately flashed the inquiry sign after the race and they didn’t need long to place Hot Rod Charlie, the 4-5 favorite coming off a second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes, last for interference. Mandaloun was awarded his first Grade I stakes win and once again was in the middle of a disputed finish.
It has been two months since the Brad Cox-trained colt finished second behind Medina Spirit in the Derby, the opening leg of the Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Medina Spirit subsequently tested positive for the presence of an anti-inflammatory steroid after the race and the state commission had not made a decision on whether the colt will be disqualified, awarding the Derby then to Mandaloun.
A 3-year-old son of Into Mischief, Mandaloun ran a spectacular race Saturday. He hugged the rail behind Midnight Bourbon and Following Sea for the first half of the 1 1/8-mile race. On the turn for home after Following Sea fell back, Mandaloun and jockey Florent Geroux joined the leaders with a move along the rail.
Roughly halfway down the stretch, Hot Rod Charlie and jockey Flavien Prat veered to the left and Midnight Bourbon was closed off, The colt, the Preakness runner-up, clipped heels with Hot Rod Charlie and went down.
Mandaloun and Hot Rod Charlie waged a furious head-bobbling battle to the wire and Hot Rod Charlie finished a nose in front.
Mandaloun paid $8.20, $4 and $3.20 as the 3-1 second choice. Following Sea was elevated to second and paid $5 and $3.80, while Antigravity was $7.80 to show.
The winning time was 1:47.38.
In additon to the Haskell, the card also included four other Graded stakes races, and jockey Joel Rosario dominated the three Grade 3 stakes.
The 36-year-old native of the Dominican Republic won the Matchmaker Stakes on the turf with Chad Brown’s Great Island ($10.80). He captured $300,000 Monmouth Cup with Dr Post ($7.20) and the $250,000 Molly Pitcher Cup with Graceful Princess ($31), both trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher.
Brown also won a Grade 1 stakes when Tribhuvan scored a front-running victory in the $500,000 United Nations Stakes on the turf.
For the second straight year highly regarded Arklow finished off the board. The 7-year-old horse took a bad step on the backstretch and almost fell before recovering.