Mandaloun and Florent Geroux hold off Weyburn to win the $150,000 Pegasus Stakes.
Squeezed to last place in the race’s opening strides, Mandaloun had more than enough to do in the 1 1/16-mile Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. Florent Geroux settled the son of Into Mischief into stride at the back of the small field, waited patiently for the right moment, and then sent his mount sprinting to the front on the final turn, passing Weyburn and Dr. Jack to take the lead. As Mandaloun closed in on the wire, Mandaloun held off a determined Weyburn to win the Pegasus by a neck.
As the second horse under the wire in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 1, Mandaloun opted to bypass the last two Triple Crown classics in favor of training up to the Pegasus Stakes with the ultimate goal of the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes at Monmouth in July. Six weeks after the Derby, the Juddmonte colt, trained by Brad Cox, showed that he could overcome a troubled trip and a fast-closing challenge from Weyburn to win and gain experience over the Monmouth surface.
Sent away as the 3-10 favorite, Mandaloun broke from post two and was squeezed by Brooklyn Strong and Dr. Jack out of the gate, visibly checking as the field got into stride. Longshot Lugamo took a one-length lead over Weyburn, with Dr. Jack just behind and then Brooklyn Strong and Mandaloun another length and a half back. With fractions of :24.67 for the first quarter and then :48.61 for the half-mile, Lugamo’s slow pace set up for Mandaloun to make his bid.
On the backstretch, Geroux moved his colt into fourth, positioning Mandaloun for a push for the front on the final turn. As Lugamo gave way to Weyburn and Dr. Jack, Mandaloun loomed up on the outside and picked up speed entering the stretch. In the final furlong, Mandaloun put more space between himself and Weyburn and Dr. Jack, but jockey Dylan Davis pushed Weyburn for another go at the eventual winner, closing the gap between them quickly. Geroux and Mandaloun were able to hold them to cross the wire with a neck advantage. Dr. Jack was third, while Brooklyn Strong and Lugamo rounded out the field. The final time was 1:44.63.
Mandaloun paid $2.60, $2.10, and $2.10. Second-place Weyburn paid $3.00 and $2.20. Dr. Jack paid $2.60 to show.
After the race, Brad Cox was pleased with Mandaloun’s performance in his first post-Derby start.
“We didn’t expect that (being pinched at the start). We thought he might be on the lead or tracking a couple. We found ourselves last going into the first turn. But overall it was a big effort. I think he closed into a soft pace. He probably had to start his run a touch early given the fact that he was last. He ran a big race. Florent (Geroux) made the comment that he may have been looking around late. But he made the lead by himself. Overall it was a good effort for him to ship over here.”
“I think ultimately we’re going to figure out what toll it took on him once we get back home (to Churchill Downs). The ship over for the race, the ship back. Things such as that. We’ll put it all together and process it and let him tell us where he is over the next couple of weeks.”
“He made the lead and it looked like he was going to go on. Obviously, the horse on the lead was setting softer fractions. You kind of expect that (he was forced to fight late). I don’t think that’s something that is totally unexpected. Overall it was a big race and we’re proud of the effort. He responded when asked and was carried a touch wide and floated through the turn. But overall it was a good effort and hopefully he can bounce out of it in good order and be ready in five weeks (for the TVG.com Haskell Stakes).”
Florent Geroux, who has ridden Mandaloun in all of his starts, knew what his colt had left even after that uncertain start.
“Yes (he was pinched) a little bit (at the start). I didn’t want to rush him. He was nice and relaxed during the race. It was nice to see that he was able to settle down on his own and everything worked out great. The important thing was not to rush him too hard (after the start).”
“I had a lot of horse. He was passing horses one by one. At the end, when he made the lead, maybe he was looking around a little. It was a new thing for him not having the whip for encouragement. I saw the other horse (Weyburn) coming inside of us. But he was still running pretty good at the end. He had to work for it, but I don’t think it was a really hard race on him. He did not come back blowing hard at all.”
Mandaloun is by Into Mischief out of the Empire Maker mare Brooch. He is bred and owned by Juddmonte Farms. His win in the Pegasus brings him to a record of four wins in seven lifetime starts, with $1,051,252 in earnings.
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