By Nicholas Godfrey
Monmouth Park: Haskell Stakes $1m, 1m1f, dirt, 3yo
Mandaloun (Brad Cox/Florent Geroux)
In a controversial edition of the $1m Haskell, Mandaloun – the Juddmonte homebred set to claim the Kentucky Derby if the Medina Spirit DQ is ratified – was promoted to first place when Hot Rod Charlie was disqualified and placed last by the stewards for interference.
However, the bare facts tell only a portion of the story as there are likely to be recriminations involving the much criticised New Jersey whip rules after an incident that left jockey Paco Lopez on the floor.
Placed in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, Hot Rod Charlie was made 4-5 favourite for the race before touching off Mandaloun after fighting back in a spirited final-furlong duel.
But he had impeded Midnight Bourbon, leaning on his rival when mounting his challenge on the outside a furlong out. Midnight Bourbon duly clipped heels and unseated Lopez – and the question is whether New Jersey rules outlawing use of the whip for anything other than safety purposes had any role to play in the incident.
Either way, what is unarguable is that Hot Rod Charlie shortened up Midnight Bourbon, and the stewards disqualified him. Midnight Bourbon appeared to escape injury and while Lopez was taken away on a stretcher, he was expected back on Sunday.
The Haskell is a Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ race for the Classic at Del Mar on November 6.
Shall we talk about it?
Brad Cox (Mandaloun’s trainer): “We got a really good trip. I thought it was a lot like our Kentucky Derby trip. 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.
“We didn’t have our nose down at the wire but 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.”
Florent Geroux (Mandaloun’s jockey): “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 Charlie clipped his heels – 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.”
Flavien Prat (Hot Rod Charlie’s jockey): “My horse was lugging in a little bit. The problem was I cocked his head and grabbed him, but there was little I could do. If I could just tap him left-handed … every racetrack has different [rules]. I respect every decision.” (speaking to Daily Racing Form)
Diana: Althiqa leads another G1 one-two for Appleby
Saratoga: Diana Stakes G1 $500,000, 1m1f, turf, 4yo+ f/m
Althiqa (Charlie Appleby/Manny Franco)
After finishing one-two in the Just A Game on the Belmont Stakes undercard, Godolphin fillies Althiqa and Summer Romance repeated the dose here in a second G1 event.
Sent off 27-10 favourite for this $500,000 contest, Summer Romance (received 2lb) led throughout before getting run down by her fellow grey inside the final furlong. The winning margin of three-quarters of a length looked a shade cosy.
Shall we talk about it?
Sophie Chretien (trainer Charlie Appleby’s assistant): “We’ve been in America since the first of May; it’s the 17th of July and we had two big targets in Grade 1s and we just couldn’t do better. What I realised with Althiqa with all the time she’s been with us, she’s becoming stronger physically and mentally. Summer Romance is a lot more of a nervous filly.”
Manny Franco (Althiqa’s jockey): “I just wanted to wait as long as I could because I knew the distance was further than the last race. That was the question, but she did it. They didn’t tell me much. They just told me to cover her and follow somebody until I made my move. I think that was the key; that she was so relaxed behind horses and then she gave me a nice move and nice kick.”