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Kentucky Derby Runner Up Mandaloun Set For Pegasus Stakes

James Murphy
by in Horses on
  • Mandaloun is expected to contend for the win in Sunday’s $150,000 USD TVG Pegasus Stakes at New Jersey’s Monmouth Park.
  • Mandaloun finished second in the Kentucky Derby though will likely be declared the winner after the presumptive disqualification of Bob Baffert’s Medina Spirit.
  • Medina Spirit failed a postrace drug test and his status as the winner of the Kentucky Derby is in serious jeopardy.

Mandaloun finished second in the May 1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs but now his connections must wait and see if he ends up being declared the winner of the first leg of the Triple Crown. As the runner up, he would be elevated to the ‘winner’s circle’ should Medina Spirit–as expected–is disqualified. In a post race drug test Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, a regulated anti-inflammatory given to horses to reduce swelling in their joints. The decision is ultimately up to Kentucky horse racing stewards but it could take them awhile as Bob Baffert and Medina Spirit’s other connections are taking legal action to preserve the victory.

While Medina Spirit looks to be headed for the Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 17 it won’t be as long until Mandaloun is back in action. He’s entered in Sunday’s $150,000 USD TVG Pegasus Stakes at the same track. Mandaloun will face four other three year olds over 1 1/6 mile. Trainer Brad Cox apparently has a flair for the dramatic as he’s using the ace as a tuneup for the Haskell which will potentially set up a rematch with Medina Spirit. Mandaloun will start the Pegasus Stakes–Race 10 on Sunday’s Monmouth Park card–in the second slot with Florent Geroux aboard. He was installed as a 3/5 morning line favorite.

There’s every reason to think that Mandaloun will roll in the Pegasus Stakes. He’s very well rested having skipped both the Preakness and Belmont. Trainer Brad Cox briefly considered him for the May 29 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs but ultimately opted for the additional time off. Even though Mandaloun was idle since the Kentucky Derby he’s seen his stock improve thanks to the strong performances turned in by Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie in the Belmont Stakes. Mandaloun left both horses in the rear view mirror at Churchill Downs on May 1. Trainer Cox says that the race is a good test of Mandaloun’s fitness and will get him some experience at Monmouth:

“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. I didn’t want to go 11 weeks without a race. This was the race we thought made the most sense on the calendar.”

Earlier this week, Cox said that his horse is doing well:

“He’s doing great. Obviously we wouldn’t be coming if he wasn’t doing well. He ships today (Thursday) and hopefully he will get settled in quickly and be ready for Sunday.”

His competition in Sunday’s race look to be a cut below. Brooklyn Strong (ML odds 9/2)–winner of the G2 Remsen and 5th in the Wood Memorial will start from the rail. Todd Pletcher trained Dr. Jack (ML odds 5/1) is in the third post position, Weyburn (ML odds 7/2)–winner of the G3 Gotham Stakes and fourth in the Wood Memorial–is in the four hole. Rounding out the field is Lugamo (ML odds 20/1) who finished 12th in the UAE Derby.

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