The highly anticipated rematch between Hot Rod Charlie, Mandaloun and Midnight Bourbon in the Haskell took an unexpected turn today. Although Hot Rod Charlie managed to sneak his nose under the wire first, he was disqualified for interfering with Midnight Bourbon, giving Mandaloun the win.
In the home stretch, Hot Rod Charlie cut to the inside across Midnight Bourbon’s path, causing the Midnight Bourbon to click heels with HRC and stumble badly; jockey Paco Lopez came off. Hot Rod Charlie and Mandaloun continued to battle down the stretch. This was the first time Hot Rod Charlie had raced without blinkers and you definitely can see him giving Mandaloun the death stare.
Reports are that Midnight Bourbon is uninjured. Paco Lopez has a soft tissue injury to his right knee and ankle. Man those jockeys are tough. Although he took the last two races off today, he plans to ride tomorrow. Although most of us are pretty resilient when it comes to riding with injuries, I think we’d mostly agree this is worth a few days off!
“My horse kicked me in the knee. I felt pain in my tendon there and couldn’t move my leg for about 10 minutes, but I’m 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 would have won that race.”
“I’m just going to ice up.”Paco Lopez
The Haskell marked the first time that jockeys in a major U.S. thoroughbred race were not allowed to strike horses with whips. The Haskell is a Grade 1, $1 million race. It’s unclear whether the inability to use whips played any role in the incident, but the finish will clearly re-ignite the debate on the use of riding crops. Use of the whip might have kept Hot Rod Charlie from drifting across Midnight Bourbon’s path.
Readers will remember that Mandaloun may also have won the Kentucky Derby, pending the review of Medina Spirit’s drug test. How odd that this horse has twice finished second in a major race only to have the winner challenged. What a legacy.
Make sure to watch the replay as it shows how Hot Rod Charlie moved into Midnight Bourbon’s path. Timing is everything — a few seconds could have kept them from clipping heels.