OCEANPORT, N.J. -- Trouble seems to follow Kentucky Derby runner-up Mandaloun on the racetrack.
The bigger the race, the bigger the controversy. When all is said and done though, the Brad Cox-trained colt might have two Grade 1 wins.
Mandaloun got the first Saturday when he was awarded the $1 million Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park after apparent winner Hot Rod Charlie veered in the stretch and caused Midnight Bourbon and his jockey to take a scary fall.
The Haskell win also gave Mandaloun a spot in the Breeders Cup Classic at Del Mar in California early November.
"I hope the horse is OK. I hope the rider is OK," Cox said about Midnight Bourbon and jockey Paco Lopez. "Somebody watching the race said he might get put up. Watching the replay on the head-on, it looked like there would be a reversal."
Midnight Bourbon recovered from a tumble to the track and ran off uninjured, the on-call vet at the Jersey Shore track said. Lopez was put on board and removed to the track's medical office in an ambulance.
Dr. Angelo Chinnici, Monmouth Park medical director, said Lopez had a soft tissue injury to his right knee and ankle and did not require further treatment.
"My horse kicked me in the knee," Lopez said. "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."
Jockey Flavien Prat, who rode Hot Rod Charlie, apologized to Lopez after the race.
The track stewards immediately flashed the inquiry sign after the race and they didn't need long to place Hot Rod Charlie, the 4-5 favorite coming off a second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes, last for interference.
It put Mandaloun again in the middle of a disputed finish.
It has been two months since Mandaloun finished second behind Medina Spirit in the Derby, the opening leg of the Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Medina Spirit subsequently tested positive for the presence of an anti-inflammatory steroid after the race and the state commission had not made a decision on whether the colt will be disqualified, awarding the Derby then to Mandaloun.
A 3-year-old son of Into Mischief who is owned and bred by the Juddemonte Farms, Mandaloun ran a spectacular race Saturday. He hugged the rail behind Midnight Bourbon and Following Sea for the first half of the 1 1/8-mile race. On the turn for home after Following Sea fell back, Mandaloun and jockey Florent Geroux joined the leaders with a move along the rail.
Roughly halfway down the stretch, Hot Rod Charlie veered to the left and Midnight Bourbon was closed off, The colt, the Preakness runner-up, clipped heels with Hot Rod Charlie and went down.
Mandaloun and Hot Rod Charlie waged a furious head-bobbling battle to the wire and Hot Rod Charlie finished a nose in front.
"Honestly I didn't know what happened until I came back and looked at the TV," Geroux said. "It is not the best way to win, but Mandaloun ran a winning race and deserves this."
Cox said Mandaloun would go to Saratoga for a rest.
Mandaloun paid $8.20, $4 and $3.20 as the 3-1 second choice. Following Sea was elevated to second and paid $5 and $3.80, while Antigravity was $7.80 to show.
The winning time was 1:47.38.
In addition to the Haskell, the card also included four other Graded stakes races, and jockey Joel Rosario dominated the three Grade 3 stakes.
The 36-year-old native of the Dominican Republic won the Matchmaker Stakes on the turf with Chad Brown's Great Island ($10.80). He captured $300,000 Monmouth Cup with Dr Post ($7.20) and the $250,000 Molly Pitcher Cup with Graceful Princess ($31), both trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher.
Brown also won a Grade 1 stakes when Tribhuvan scored a front-running victory in the $500,000 United Nations Stakes on the turf.
For the second straight year highly regarded Arklow finished off the board. The 7-year-old horse took a bad step on the backstretch and almost fell before recovering.