Following Sea broke first in the 54th TVG.com Haskell Stakes G1 at Monmouth Park setting the pace with Midnight Bourbon on his flank. Hot Rod Charlie was four lengths back alongside Mandaloun.
They were four in tandem—Following Sea, Mandaloun, Midnight Bourbon and Hot Rod Charlie—going around the stretch turn with Following Sea on the rail. All chasing that $1 million purse.
As Following Sea dropped back there were three across at the quarter pole with Hot Rod Charlie taking command with a bold move on the outside. Ridden by Flavien Prat, Hot Rod Charlie surged in another gear coming (apparently coming in a few lanes) as Mandaloun clung close in contention down to the wire. It was a photo finish for Hot Rod Charlie and Mandaloun with Hot Rod Charlie prevailing (temporarily).
Midnight Bourbon, in between horses, appeared to take a bad step and went head over heels throwing jockey Paco Lopez to the ground. Midnight Bourbon got up on his own and was walking fine but Lopez was taken off on a stretcher. There is an update below.
Upon an inquiry it was ruled by the Stewards that Hot Rod Charlie came into Midnight Bourbon’s lane and was fouled by Hot Rod Charlie when he moved in to pass and caused the spill. Hot Rod Charlie was disqualified and Mandaloun declared the winner.
The ultimate winner with an $800,000 share of the purse, Mandaloun was handily ridden by Florent Geroux. A homebred for Juddmonte Farm, the bay colt is sired by Into Mischief out of an Empire Maker mare Brooch. He has hit the board five out of his six starts with two wins for 2021.
“I had my sights on Hot Rod Charlie. When Hot Rod Charlie tipped out I decided to go inside. It was a very hard battle. Hot Rod Charlie was going to win by a neck and right at the end my horse came back and made it really close. Unfortunately for Hot Rod Charlie he came in and Midnight Bourbon clipped his heels and he got disqualified.
“I feel bad for the connections of Hot Rod Charlie because he ran a hard race and Flavien Prat is a good friend of mine. I kind of feel bad for him. Honestly I didn’t know what happened until I came back and looked at the TV. It is not the best way to win by Mandaloun ran a winning race and deserves this,” Geroux recounted.
The Brad Cox trainee won the TVG.com Pegasus Stakes (Listed) in his last start on June 13 at Monmouth. He also placed second in the Kentucky Derby.
“We got a really good trip. I thought it was a lot like our Kentucky Derby trip. He was saving ground. Florent did a good job of getting on the outside of Following Sea.
Turning for home I thought we had a big shot at winning the race. I thought we ran a winning race. Didn’t have our nose down at the wire but all and all it worked out. I’m proud of the effort and the performance. He’s always been a good colt, he has always been highly thought of. He deserves a Grade 1 victory. He’s a Grade 1 horse and I’m glad it worked out today.
“Someone watching the race next to me said Hot Rod Charlie may come down. I was so focused watching Mandoloun I didn’t see the horse go down. It looked like he clipped heels but I was not sure what happened. I was not sure if that horse ducked in behind Hot Rod Charlie or if Hot Rod Charlie came over on him. Once I saw the head-on and the replay I saw it. It didn’t take them long to change it and it was pretty obvious they would make a change,” Cox explained.
“The race was kind of how we were hoping it would unfold. But I was a little unsure what would happen with the pace in regards to Following Sea first time around two turns. It was a nice pace, a controlled pace. I don’t think they went too fast. Once again I thought we had a somewhat similar trip to what we had in the Kentucky Derby.
“Both (Essential Quality and Mandaloun) have obviously been campaigned since last fall and all of 2021. We’re going to ship Mandaloun up to Saratoga and let him catch his breath. We’ll catch our breath. Myself and Garrett will come up with a game plan in the near future. No need to make a decision now,” Cox finished.
At 3-1 Mandaloun paid to $8.20, $4.00 and $3.20.
Garret O’Rourke, General Manager of American division of Juddmonte Farms commented: “Ultimately I think Brad followed a very good plan. We got one over the track (in the TVG.com Pegasus Stakes). He trained up here as well and we’re sitting here today so we have to consider it a success.
“I know he’s a genuine Grade 1 horse. There’s no fluke to the way the horse runs. It’s good that the horse justified how good a runner he is. He’s a beautifully bred horse and he was extremely well prepared. We’re extremely proud. It was an unusual race but we still feel like he ran a winning race and it tastes the same.”
The pace-setter was the eventual runner-up. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Following Sea gave a game effort following his own pace around the 1-1/8 mile TVG.com Haskell course. Before the Midnight Bourbon spill he was battling for a chance at the lead.
The son of Runhappy out of Speightstown mare Quick Flip, Following Sea is a homebred for Spendthrift Farm. The bay colt was aptly ridden by Joel Rosario who sported the easily recognizable Spendthrift silks. He earned $200,000 for his tenacity.
Following Sea has four career starts hitting the board each time with two wins, one second and one third. This was his first graded stakes. It was an admirable accomplishment to place in a Grade 1 with a $1 million purse. His previous starts were in MSW’s at Santa Anita and Oaklawn, the latter where he broke his maiden, and his last win at Belmont in an allowance on June 3. He was unraced as a 2-year-old.
Following Sea was 7/2 and paid for $5.00 and $3.80 place.
Longshot Antigravity at 50-1 ridden by David Cohen and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer finished third. He paid $7.80 for the show.
Antigravity was bred in Kentucky by Glen Oak Farm & Two Stamps Stables. He is campaigned by Hollendorfer and Dennis January.
Antigravity is the son of First Samurai out of Blame mare Port Charlotte. The dark brown colt was purchased at the Fasig-Tipton 2019 Kentucky Yearling Sale for $4,000 and has more than paid for his fee with his third-place purse money of $100,000.
Trained by Doug O’Neill, it would have been Hot Rod Charlie’s first grade 1 victory. He was second in the Belmont Stakes (G1), third in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and first in the Twinspires Louisiana Derby (G2) at the Fair Grounds in his last three starts.
The son of 2013 Preakness winner Oxbow out of an Indian Charlie mare Indian Miss was bred in Kentucky by Edward A. Cox Jr. The 3-year-old colt is campaigned by Boat Racing, LLC, Gainesway Stable (Antony Beck), Roadrunner Racing and William Strauss.
Hot Rod Charlie was purchased by Dennis O’Neill for his current owners at the Fasig-Tipton October 2019 Yearling Sale for $110,000 and has more than proven his worth.
Update on Jockey Paco Lopez
Dr. Angelo Chinnici , Monmouth Park medical director: “(Paco) has a soft tissue injury to his right knee and ankle. He was alert and oriented. He was not taken to the hospital. He took off (the rest of the card) as a precaution. He said he was very disappointed because he thought he had a ton of horse
Paco Lopez: “I’m good man. I am fine. I am just going to ice up,
“My horse kicked me in the knee. I felt pain in my tendon there, and I couldn’t move my leg for about 10 minutes, but I am fine now I can bend my knee again. I think I would have won that race, I had my horse in the right position to win. I was fighting back, but my horse had a lot of run left, so I think I could have won that race.
Flavien: “I am really proud of his effort. He just clipped my heels. That’s it.”
Flavien apologized to Paco and Paco said “it happens man.”
Midnight Bourbon suffered no serious injuries from the fall.
2021 TVG.com Haskell Stakes Replay
Maribeth Kalinich, Past The Wire Editor: UPDATED July 18, 2021
Photo: Mandaloun (inside) battles Hot Rod Charlie to the wire before the DQ. (Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)