22-02-22 – Mandaloun with Florent Geroux on board trumps Midnight Bourbon to win the 76th running of the $150,000 Grade III Louisiana Stakes at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir
It was billed as a two-horse contest between millionaires Mandaloun and Midnight Bourbon, which is exactly what the Grade 3, $150,000 Louisiana Stakes became Saturday at the Fair Grounds. Mandaloun (4-5) and Midnight Bourbon (6-5) turned home in their sixth on-track encounter and even got close to the center of the track and battled it out until pole 16. Jockeys Florent Geroux and Joel Rosario each gave their mounts, but it was Mandaloun and Geroux who took over three quarters of the length on the wire.
The Juddmonte, bred by Into Mischief, trained by Brad Cox and racing from a seven-month hiatus, covered 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:42.52. It was Geroux’s fourth win on the map.
Every millionaire got Lasix for the first time in Saturday’s game and trainer Steve Asmussen added blinkers to Midnight Bourbon’s kit.
Midnight Bourbon broke through a bit at the start, bumped into Mandaloun a bit and then went straight into the lead under Rosario. Midnight Bourbon had a one-length lead over Sprawl entering the backstretch, setting fractions of 24.39 and 48.25 seconds, then riding off to a two-length lead approaching the half-mile post.
Geroux sent Mandaloun up the rail into second on the approach to the far corner, then bent to the outside of Midnight Bourbon to complete his stretch challenge. Midnight Bourbon went wide out on the track, pushing Mandaloun to the center of the track, and the two crossed the next eighth mile.
Fiercely fighting, the two millionaires playfully dug into the track. Mandaloun headed forward at the sixteenth post and moved further and further toward the wire. At the finish, it was three-quarters long Mandaloun over Midnight Bourbon, denying Rosario and Asmussen a fourth win on Saturday’s New Orleans map. It was several lengths back to Warrant in third, also trained by Cox, and Spa City checked over Sprawl in fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by his owner, Mandaloun is out of the Group 2 winning Empire Maker mare Brooch. He impressed on his debut at Keeneland in 2020, then won a first-degree fee before finishing third in the 2021 Lecomte (G3). Mandaloun returned to win the G2 Risen Star but never showed up in the G2 Louisiana Derby. Still, he had earned enough points to run for the roses, and Mandaloun ran a massive race to finish second behind Medina Spirit in the shadow of the Twin Spires.
Mandaloun won the publicly traded Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth five weeks later and took victory in the G1 Haskell when Hot Rod Charlie was disqualified in July. Unraced since that start on July 17, Mandaloun returned fit enough to conquer the Louisiana Stakes in what could set the stage for the world’s richest horse race, the G1 Saudi Cup on February 26. All in all, Mandaloun’s record stands at six wins from nine starts for a profit of more than $1.75 million.
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