Derby runner-up Mandaloun wins at Monmouth Park in return

Getty Images

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.

Forte works out, waits for Belmont Stakes clearance

1 Comment

NEW YORK — Forte, the early Kentucky Derby favorite who was scratched on the day of the race, worked out in preparation for a possible start in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

Under regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Forte worked five-eighths of a mile for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the colt’s second workout since being scratched from the Derby on May 6.

“It seems like he’s maintained his fitness level,” Pletcher said. “It seems like everything is in good order.”

Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Derby because of a bruised right front foot. In order to be removed from the list, the colt had to work in front of a state veterinarian and give a blood sample afterward, the results of which take five days.

“There’s protocols in place and we had to adhere to those and we’re happy that everything went smoothly,” Pletcher said. “We felt confident the horse was in good order or we wouldn’t have been out there twice in the last six days, but you still want to make sure everything went smoothly and we’re happy everything did go well.”

Pletcher said Kingsbarns, who finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont. The colt is showing signs of colic, although he is fine, the trainer said.

Another Pletcher-trained horse, Prove Worthy, is under consideration for the Belmont. He also has Tapit Trice, who finished seventh in the Derby, being pointed toward the Belmont.

Judge grants Churchill Downs’ request for summary judgment to dismiss Bob Baffert’s lawsuit

churchill downs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has granted Churchill Downs’ motion for summary judgment that dismisses Bob Baffert’s claim the track breached due process by suspending the Hall of Fame trainer for two years.

Churchill Downs Inc. suspended Baffert in June 2021 after his now-deceased colt, Medina Spirit, failed a postrace drug test after crossing the finish line first in the 147th Kentucky Derby. The trainer’s request to lift the discipline was denied in February, keeping him out of the Derby for a second consecutive May.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled in a 12-page opinion issued Wednesday that Churchill Downs’ suspension of Baffert did not devalue his Kentucky trainer’s license. It cited his purse winnings exceeding $1 million at Keeneland in Lexington and stated that his argument “amounts to a false analogy that distorts caselaw.”

Jennings denied CDI’s motion to stay discovery as moot.

The decision comes less than a week after Baffert-trained colt National Treasure won the Preakness in his first Triple Crown race in two years. His record eighth win in the second jewel of the Triple Crown came hours after another of his horses, Havnameltdown, was euthanized following an injury at Pimlico.

Churchill Downs said in a statement that it was pleased with the court’s favorable ruling as in Baffert’s other cases.

It added, “While he may choose to file baseless appeals, this completes the seemingly endless, arduous and unnecessary litigation proceedings instigated by Mr. Baffert.”

Baffert’s suspension is scheduled to end on June 2, but the track’s release noted its right to extend it “and will communicate our decision” at its conclusion.