Juddmonte Farm's MANDALOUN dueled with HOT ROD CHARLIE through the length of the stretch, and fell a head-bob shy of crossing the line first, but was later declared the winner of the $1,000,000 Haskell Invitational (G1) after HOT ROD CHARLIE was DQ'd for interference and placed last of the seven-horse field.
The victory gave winning trainer Brad Cox his very first Haskell Stakes victory.
Sent off at odds of $3.10-to-win, and ridden by Florent Geroux, MANDALOUN took a tracking trip along the rail, well placed, while pacesetter FOLLOWING SEA set fractions of 23.82 and 47.32.
"I had my sights on Hot Rod Charlie." said jockey Florent Geroux. "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. Unfortunately for Hot Rod Charlie, he came in and Midnight Bourbon clipped his heels and he got disqualified. I feel bad for the connections of Hot Rod Charlie because he ran a hard race and Flavien Prat is a good friend of mine. I kind of feel bad for him. 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."
Approaching the turn, MANDALOUN was full of run but had to wait patiently for an opening. Florent Geroux found a hole and MANDALOUN surged forward, only to be engaged by HOT ROD CHARLIE for a stretch duel. MANDALOUN would miss narrowly by a nose.
But the INQUIRY sign was posted immediately after the race. Moments later, MANDALOUN was moved up to first place and declared the winner, while HOT ROD CHARLIE was DQ'd to fourth by the stewards for interference at the turn.
Under jockey Flavien Prat, HOT ROD CHARLIE cut in front of the path of the weakening MIDNIGHT BOURBON, causing MIDNIGHT BOURBON to stumble and unseat Paco Lopez. Replay is shown below.
Fortunately for MIDNIGHT BOURBON, he was well enough to get back on his feet and gallop back to the other horses. But Paco Lopez was slow to get up. He was seen moving his limbs, as he was being lifted onto a stretcher. We will post updates on Paco Lopez's progress as soon as we get them.
FOLLOWING SEA, who finished third, was moved to second. ANTIGRAVITY, who fnished fourth, was moved up to third.
The final time for the one mile and one-eighth was 1:47.38.
MANDALOUN paid $8.20 to win, $4.00 to place, and $3.20 to show. He is by INTO MISCHIEF out of BROOCH by EMPIRE MAKER. He notches his first Grade 1 victory, pushes his earnings to $1,651,252, and achieved a new top speed figure for the effort.
"We got a really good trip— I thought it was a lot like our Kentucky Derby trip." said winning trainer Brad Cox.
"He was saving ground. Florent did a good job of getting on the outside of Following Sea. Turning for home I thought we had a big shot at winning the race. I thought we ran a winning race. 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."