Derby runner-up Mandaloun returns Sunday at Monmouth Park

Alton Strupp/Courier Journal
0 Comments

OCEANPORT, N.J. — Mandaloun is returning to racing for the first time since finishing second in the Kentucky Derby, for which he could still be named the winner if Medina Spirit is disqualified for failing a postrace drug test.

Trainer Brad Cox on Thursday entered Mandaloun in the Grade 1 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park on Sunday. The 1-1/16 miles race for 3-year-olds drew a field of five and could serve as a prep race for the $1 million Haskell Stakes at Monmouth on July 17.

Mandaloun is being driven from Kentucky and is scheduled to arrive at the New Jersey shore racetrack on Friday.

“I want him to get some experience at Monmouth and I’m looking to use the race as a fitness tool, as a prep from the Haskell,” said Cox, who plans to fly in from Kentucky on Sunday morning to watch the race in person. “I didn’t want to go 11 weeks without a race. This was the race we thought made the most sense on the calendar.”

Postrace testing showed Medina Spirit had the anti-inflammatory steroid betamethasone in his system on May 1, when he was first to cross the Kentucky Derby finish line. A second sample also tested positive.

Trainer Bob Baffert and owner Amr Zedan filed a lawsuit in Kentucky on Monday, asking a judge to order racing officials to conduct more testing before stripping Medina Spirit of the Derby victory, which would take the purse money from them but not affect bettors because the result was made official.

In a civil action filed in Franklin Circuit Court, Baffert and Zedan Racing Stables asked for a temporary injunction barring the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from taking action against their horse until additional tests can be run.

Two years ago, disqualified Kentucky Derby winner Maximum Security finished second as the 1-20 favorite to King for a Day in the Pegasus Stakes before going on to win the Haskell.

Mandaloun, a Kentucky-bred colt owned by Juddmonte Racing, has won three of six career starts and earned $961,252.

Cox posted his first win in a Triple Crown race on Saturday when 2-year-old champion Essential Quality won the Belmont Stakes in New York. The colt is shipping to Saratoga in July and pointing to the Travers Stakes.

The Louisville-born trainer said he’d like to keep Mandaloun and Essential Quality from racing against each other again for as long as possible. Essential Quality finished fourth in the Derby after going off as the favorite.

Mandaloun drew the No. 2 post for the Pegasus Stakes on Sunday and will be ridden by Florent Geroux.

Brooklyn Strong, who finished 15th in the Derby, drew the No. 1 post and will be ridden by Abner Adano. Dr Jack has the No. 3 post position, with Paco Lopez listed to ride. Weyburn, the long shot winner of the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes, got the No. 4 spot for Dylan David.

Lugamo and Angel Cruz will have the outside No. 5 post. The colt has not raced since a 12th-place finish on March 27 in the UAE Derby in Dubai.

The Pegasus Stakes odds were not immediately released.

Flightline, Pletcher, Godolphin lead way at Eclipse Awards

eclipse awards
Pat McDonogh/USA TODAY NETWORK
1 Comment

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Flightline ran away in all six of his races, and ran away with top honors at the Eclipse Awards on Thursday night.

And trainer Todd Pletcher, for the first time in nearly a decade, received the sport’s top prize as well.

Flightline – the now-retired winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic to cap an unbeaten six-race career – won Horse of the Year as well as the Eclipse as top Older Dirt Male. It was no surprise that Flightline took home both awards, and he’s now standing stud.

“We’ll hope that his future is as bright as his past,” co-owner Kosta Hronis said.

Godolphin was also a double winner, sweeping the Eclipses as top owner and top breeder for the second consecutive year. It was also the third consecutive top-owner Eclipse for Godolphin.

“This is truly a golden era for Godolphin racing,” said Michael Banahan, the stable’s director of bloodstock. “And these awards and accolades recognize how special it is.”

It was Pletcher’s eighth Eclipse, extending his record for the most by any trainer, and his first since 2014. It was one of the few close races in the voting; Pletcher got 108 first-place votes, while four-time Eclipse winner Chad Brown got 95 and finished second.

“This really is not an individual award. This is a team award,” Pletcher said. “This is an award about the owners, and most importantly, the horses.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. won the Eclipse as top jockey for the fourth time in the last five years; he tied Pat Day and Javier Castellano for third-most in history, behind only seven-time winner Jerry Bailey and five-time winner Laffit Pincay Jr.

Ortiz led all jockeys with more than $37 million in purses in 2022.

“Wow,” Ortiz said. “It’s been an amazing year for me.”

Forte won the Eclipse as 2-year-old male, and will enter this year’s Triple Crown season as one of the early favorites.

“We’re all in this game for a horse like Forte,” said Mike Repole, the horse’s co-owner along with Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola and Teresa Viola. “We’re all in this game to one day maybe own a 2-year-old that has a chance. It’s great to have the Kentucky Derby favorite. … Forte’s an incredible horse.”

Epicenter won the 3-year-old male Eclipse, after running second at both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, then winning the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga over the summer.

Wonder Wheel was the winner as 2-year-old filly, while Nest won the Eclipse in the 3-year-old filly division. Malathaat was the Eclipse winner for older dirt female, Goodnight Olive for female sprinter and Regal Glory for female turf horse.

Elite Power was picked as the top male sprinter, Modern Games won the Eclipse for male turf horse, and Hewick was the Eclipse winner in the steeplechase division.

Jose Antonio Gomez won as top apprentice jockey.

The Eclipse Awards are voted on by members of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers And Broadcasters.

Trainer Bob Baffert’s ban from racing in New York is over

bob baffert
Courier Journal/USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

Bob Baffert can once again enter horses at New York’s major tracks.

The Hall of Fame trainer’s one-year ban by the New York Racing Association ended Wednesday, allowing him to enter horses as soon as Thursday.

“I was disappointed they even did it, but it’s water under the bridge,” Baffert told The Associated Press by phone.

He was suspended last June for repeated medication violations, although none of them occurred in New York. He was barred from Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga. A panel credited Baffert for time served for an initial suspension, which allowed him to return this week.

Aqueduct is currently holding its 44-day winter meet that runs through March 26. Baffert doesn’t typically run horses this time of year in New York; he targets the biggest stakes races at Belmont in the spring and Saratoga in the summer.

Baffert remains under a two-year ban by Churchill Downs Inc., which sidelined him after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for a substance that is not allowed on race day. The penalty expires shortly after the Kentucky Derby in May. However, Baffert is fighting the suspension in federal court.

The Southern California-based trainer has a big weekend coming up around the country, although not in New York.

He has horses running at three tracks on Saturday.

Defunded is entered in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream in Florida, where Baffert assistant Jimmy Barnes will be on hand.

Arabian Knight goes into the $750,000 Southwest Stakes as the early favorite at Oaklawn in Arkansas. Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby prep race a record-tying five times and will travel to Hot Springs to watch the 3-year-old colt.

“It’s going to be a good test for him. The only way to find out is to run him long,” he said. “It’s going to take a superior horse to do that and I’m hoping that he is.”

The Southwest offers Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top five finishers. Arabian Knight won’t receive any points regardless of his placing because of Baffert’s Derby ban.

Hopper will run in the $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita.

On Sunday at the same track, Baffert has entered four of the five horses set to run in the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds.