OCEANPORT, N.J. — Kentucky Derby runner-up Mandaloun overcame a tough trip and a stubborn rival in Weyburn to win the $150,000 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park.
It was Mandaloun’s first start since Derby, and it wasn’t an easy race for the 3-10 favorite.
Mandaloun and jockey Florent Geroux were pinched back to last in the five-horse field shortly after the start. Mandaloun ranged into contention with a strong three-wide rally on the final turn and looked poised to power to victory at the top of the stretch. Weyburn refused to back down, battling back in deep stretch to narrow the final margin to only a neck.
The Pegasus is the prep for the track’s premier event, the $1 million Haskell Stakes for 3-year-olds on July 17.
The victory improved Mandaloun’s record to 4-1-1 in seven starts for owner and breeder Juddmonte Farm and increased his career earnings to $1,051,252. He could eventually be awarded a fifth win in the biggest 3-year-old race of all, the Kentucky Derby. The victorious Medina Spirit was found to have a banned substance in his system and could be disqualified by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission after a series of hearings and legal appeals.
That would award Mandaloun the Derby victory.
It was the second major 3-year-old stakes victory in as many weekends for trainer Brad Cox who saddled Essential Quality to win the Belmont Stakes.
After Mandaloun finished a half length behind Medina Spirit in the Derby, Cox opted to point the colt to the Haskell instead of the remaining legs of the Triple Crown: the Preakness and the Belmont.
The Pegasus fit Cox’s schedule, positioned five weeks before the Haskell. And Mandaloun came through with the win, although it was tighter than expected.
“He overcame things,” Cox said. “It looked like he got a little lost late in the race. He made the lead and he started looking around. Overall, it was a good performance and I’m proud of his effort,”
The Pegasus was the first major race run at Monmouth under the rules implemented this year that ban jockeys from using whips except to prevent an accident or injury.
Mandaloun paid $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10. Weyburn returned $3 and $2.20. Dr Jack paid $2.60 to show.
Brooklyn Strong was fourth followed by Lugamo.
The time was 1:44.63 for the 1 1-16 miles on the fast track.