Derby runner-up Mandaloun wins at Monmouth Park in return

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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.

369 horses nominated to compete in Triple Crown series

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A total of 369 3-year-olds were made eligible to compete in this year’s Triple Crown series during the early nomination period.

Each of the horses was nominated through a $600 payment to compete in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont stakes. The Triple Crown opens May 6 with the Derby.

The number of nominated horses increased by 57 from last year’s total of 312. They include a record 37 horses based in Japan.

Among the notable horses is Forte, last year’s 2-year-old champion trained by Todd Pletcher.

Also among the predominantly male horses nominated was a filly named Hoosier Philly.

Brad Cox led all trainers with 38 horses nominated to the series. Pletcher was second with 36 horses, followed by Steve Asmussen and Ken McPeek with 13 each. Chad Brown and Hideyuki Mori had 12 each.

Others nominated include Arabian Knight, Cave Rock and Newgate, all trained by Bob Baffert. He is currently banned by Churchill Downs Inc. through this year’s Derby, although Baffert is challenging his two-year punishment in federal court.

For the Derby, horses under the care of any suspended trainer may be transferred to another trainer and become eligible to earn Derby qualifying points as long as the transfer is done by Feb. 28.

Last year, Baffert transferred two horses to another trainer and both ran in the Derby, although neither was highly placed.

Horses that were not nominated to the Triple Crown series by the early deadline of Jan. 28 can make a late payment of $6,000 through March 27 to become eligible.

Newgate wins Robert B. Lewis Stakes; Baffert runs 1-2-3-4

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Newgate won the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes by a neck, with Bob Baffert as the trainer of all four horses in the Kentucky Derby prep race at Santa Anita.

Ridden by Frankie Dettori, Newgate ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.11 and paid $4 and $2.60 as the even-money favorite. There was no show wagering because of the field size.

Hard to Figure returned $5.20 at 12-1 odds. Worcester was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third. Arabian Lion was fourth.

“So much improvement in all these horses,” Baffert said. “I was actually nervous before the race, worried that something weird might happen, but I can relax now.”

The Lewis was a Kentucky Derby prep race, but no points were awarded because Baffert has been banned for two years by Churchill Downs Inc. The Hall of Fame trainer was in Louisville to testify in federal court as he seeks a temporary injunction to end the suspension, which runs through the end of the upcoming spring meet. It was meted out following a failed drug test by Medina Spirit after the colt finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

Newgate earned his first graded stakes victory. The colt was second, beaten by a neck in the Sham Stakes last month in his previous start.

“Frankie Dettori has been teaching him how to just sit back, relax and come with a punch and that’s what he did today,” Baffert said.

The victory, worth $120,000, increased Newgate’s career earnings to $241,975, with two wins in six starts.