© Jamie Newell /

First Grade 1 for Mandaloun

Mandaloun was awarded the Gr.1 Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park following a battle to the wire with Hot Rod Charlie who was subsequently demoted to last place.

Taken from the Thoroughbred Daily News, 18th July 2021:

After a heart-stopping incident in the stretch, and heated battle to the wire between Hot Rod Charlie and 'TDN Rising Star' Mandaloun in Saturday's whip-free Gr.1 Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth, the former crossed the line a nose to the good, only to be taken all the way down to last and Mandaloun crowned the official winner. With the win, Mandaloun earned an automatic berth to the Gr.1 Breeders' Cup Classic later this year.

Stretching-out Following Sea seized the early lead entering the first turn as Hot Rod Charlie pressed in second with Midnight Bourbon glued to his outside. Mandaloun saved ground just in behind. The field spread out down the backside, with Hot Rod Charlie dropping back and relaxing in third as Midnight Bourbon took over prompting duties. Mandaloun began to pick up the bit and travel strongly after a :47.32 half, and pilot Florent Geroux still had his mount under a tight hold as Midnight Bourbon struck the front following six panels in 1:10.64. Hot Rod Charlie quickly swarmed the new lead, and Mandaloun came off the fence to pass the tiring Following Sea. It was clear by midstretch that Hot Rod Charlie and Mandaloun were going to decide the outcome, but as they came together to begin their tussle, Midnight Bourbon was squeezed out from in between them and nearly went down, flinging rider Paco Lopez to the ground.

The top two continued their battle to the end, with Midnight Bourbon picking himself up and galloping out apparently uninjured. Following Sea was more than 18 lengths back in third.

This was Mandaloun's first official Grade 1 victory. "We got a really good trip," Mandaloun's trainer Brad Cox said. "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. 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.