Travers a possibility for Brad Cox-trained Mandaloun

Trainer Brad Cox smiles after Goin’ Good won the 10th running of the Coronation Cup at Saratoga Race Course on Sunday.
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Trainer Brad Cox smiles after Goin’ Good won the 10th running of the Coronation Cup at Saratoga Race Course on Sunday.

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Trainer Brad Cox got a little extra sleep Sunday morning.

That means he got up at 4:50 a.m. and was at the barn at 5:15, after he and some of his staff drove back from New Jersey Saturday and got into town at midnight.

He and owner Juddmonte will take some extra time before deciding whether Grade I Haskell winner Mandaloun will run in the Aug. 28 Travers at Saratoga Race Course.

That means it’ll be weeks before the next step is identified for Mandaloun, who was elevated from second to first in what turned out to be a wild, dangerous Haskell finish in which Hot Rod Charlie barely hit the wire first, then was disqualified.

But the Travers is in the picture, which would create a juicy matchup between stablemates, Mandaloun and 3-year-old male division leader Essential Quality.

“Moving forward, we’ve decided the logical spots are the Travers and the PA [Pennsylvania] Derby,” Cox said. “We’ll kind of see how he trains and if he moves forward off this Haskell. What unfolds in the Jim Dandy — and they have the Curlin that weekend, as well — could play a role in what happens in the Travers. We’ll watch what everyone else is doing and what Essential Quality’s doing and how each horse is training, and then make a decision down the road.

“Let the dust settle, and there’s no decisions that need to be made for a few weeks on when we need to start preparing for a race. We wouldn’t breeze him for a few weeks. His first work back will be nice and easy whether he runs in the Travers or the PA Derby or wherever he lands. Both races are on the table.”

The Pennsylvania Derby at Parx is scheduled for Sept. 25.

Mandaloun has been in the middle of the two most unusual big-race moments of the year.

He finished second to Medina Spirit in the Kentucky Derby, and that official result is still on hold after Medina Spirit failed a drug test twice. At some point, he could be disqualified, and Mandaloun would be declared the Derby winner.

On Saturday, Mandaloun battled to the wire on the inside, with Hot Rod Charlie making a hard charge on the outside, and when Hot Rod Charlie angled toward Mandaloun, he clipped heels with Midnight Bourbon between them.

Midnight Bourbon tumbled forward, sending jockey Paco Lopez to the ground, then the colt regained his footing and ran through the wire. Lopez wasn’t seriously injured, and rode the Monmouth card on Sunday, winning the first race.

Hot Rod Charlie finished a nose ahead of Mandaloun, but the result was overturned pretty quickly by the Monmouth stewards.

“It’s an odd way to win a race, but he ran a winning race,” Cox said. “It wasn’t as if he was fading or well-beaten. He ran a big race, I’m proud of the effort and he shipped back to Saratoga this morning. He looks good, happy, sound.

“This was a little better than the Derby thing, because that hasn’t been resolved yet. You’d like to cross the wire first. But he was right there, so it’s a little different story.”

By winning the Haskell, Mandaloun is in line for a $1 million bonus from BetMakers Technology Group if he also wins the Travers and the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on Nov. 6. He is guaranteed a spot in the BC Classic since the Haskell was designated as a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for that race.

Cox said it’ll be up to Juddmonte USA and general manager Garrett O’Rourke whether the bonus plays a part in the decision process.

“Being a horse trainer, first and foremost you have to watch your horse, and it’s hard to make decisions based off bonuses, you’re just trying to space your races,” he said. “The ultimate goal now with this horse would be the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He got the “Win and You’re In” yesterday, and the mile and a quarter, for him, at Del Mar, if he could get that Kentucky Derby trip in the Classic, he’d be a contender turning for home, I do believe.

“It’s a little bit of a short stretch, which might be a benefit for him. I don’t know. He is a Grade I winner, and we’re not waiting for any courts or commissions to make any decisions, and that takes some pressure off in what we have to do moving forward.

“I talked to Garrett about it a little bit as we were walking up for the post-race interview, and we decided we’re going to ship him up here, let him kind of catch his breath, let us catch our breath and kind of watch him over the next few weeks and come up with a plan.”

WIT TO HOPEFUL

The impressive Grade III Sanford winner Wit will point toward the Grade I Hopeful on closing day Sept. 6.

Including his debut at Belmont Park on June 5, Wit has won two starts by a combined 14 lengths despite not being the quickest out of the starting gate.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with his performance, and I thought he broke a little better this time,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He put himself in a good stalking position and used his very impressive turn of foot around the turn.

“He’s a very well-behaved horse, very composed and mature mentally. He’s just one that, for whatever reason, is not super quick the first jump or two. It’s not a behavioral issue. We did our normal standing at the gate in between races. I thought he would improve just by having the start, and he definitely broke more alertly and got bumped by the 2 [Candy Landing] a little bit, but was still able to get into the position we were hoping he could and went smoothly from there.”

CORONATION CUP

Goin’ Good didn’t have much company, but it was close company.

The result was close, too, but Goin’ Good and jockey Tyler Gaffalione held off Farsighted by a half-length to win Sunday’s feature, the $120,000 Coronation Cup for 3- year-old fillies.

With all of four turf races, including the Coronation Cup, moved to the sloppy main track because of rain, six fillies scratched out of the stakes race, leaving a field of four.

Goin’ Good dueled just behind Mischiefful early, then had enough in the tank to keep Farsighted at bay late.

“I thought Tyler did a fantastic job of breaking well; she doesn’t always break well,” trainer Brad Cox said. “He kept her in contact with the filly on the lead and not letting her get away. I think it played a big role in us being able to pass that filly in the lane.

“I was OK with it coming off [the turf]. A shorter field, from a trainer’s standpoint, is always nice. She can break and after a couple of strides, she puts herself back in the race. She’s not a blazing-fast filly. If you can knuckle down on her, she’ll keep herself in position. She’s really steady and has a lot of try about her and a lot of determination and heart.”

“You can see on her form that she’s run some big races against some quality fillies,” Gaffalione said. “But today, it was a different surface and a different aspect. She showed some more speed today, but she put me right where I needed to be and she finished the job.

“She doesn’t have the biggest turn-of-foot, especially on the dirt, so I just didn’t want to leave too much distance between us. My filly was getting tired and I had to use her to stay in my position, but I was just hoping that her class would prevail, and it did.”

AFTERCARE DAY

On Wednesday, Saratoga will host the inaugural New York Thoroughbred Aftercare Day, organized jointly by the New York Racing Association, New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and New York Thoroughbred Breeders.

The featured race will be the Rick Violette Stakes, named for the late NYTHA President who spearheaded the creation of the TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program and TAKE THE LEAD Retirement Program, and was a founding member of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA).

In keeping with the theme, retired New York-bred graded stakes millionaire Zivo will lead the post parade for the Rick Violette.

“We’re proud to carry on Rick Violette’s work in promoting and protecting our equine athletes,” said trainer Rick Schosberg, who succeeded Violette as TAKE2 and TAKE THE LEAD President. “The horses give us so much -– the excitement of the race, the pleasure of their company, our appreciation of their power and beauty. We owe our very livelihoods to them. It is our duty to make sure they have safe haven when their racing careers are over.”

New York Thoroughbred Aftercare Day will begin with former racehorses showcasing the skills learned in their second careers. More than 800 racehorses have been retired through TAKE THE LEAD from the NYRA racetracks.

The majority of the horses go on to New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, which has a facility in Gansevoort, and ReRun in East Greenbush, for retraining and re- homing. The two organizations will bring former racehorses out to the track for live demonstrations before the first race.

Racing fans can show their support by texting AFTERCARE2021 to 44321 and donating to TAKE THE LEAD, or by opting to make a donation to the TAA when cashing a winning ticket on an AmTote International self-service betting terminal. All donations are tax deductible.

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