The $1 million Haskell at Monmouth Park on July 16 was eventful to say the least. Here are a few hillbilly takeaways from this Breeders’ Cup “win and you are in” scamper over that New Jersey dirt.

We will begin with what should have been the top three finishers in the race. Hot Rod Charlie, Mandaloun, and Midnight Bourbon are all real race horses. Each is battle tested and runs with the conviction of a hound dog hot on the trail. When our Runnin’ Red Tick smelled a bunny, he was not going to willfully be denied. All three of these display that same determination and here is a little elaboration.

Midnight Bourbon was courageous as he raced near the lead early and took the top spot as they turned for home. Once he was passed in the stretch he continued to push toward the wire. That is what partly caused the tossing of his rider as he stumbled badly after clipping heels with Hot Rod Charlie. A horse with less heart would have simply faded back once the others ran by. Full of purpose, he completed the race without his jockey because you can’t keep a good guy down and he knows his job.

Mandaloun has quickly developed into one of those deep woods hunting dogs. Always a great looking colt, he had a few instances earlier in his career where he just didn’t seem to show up on race day. Our beagle pack had some of those. Great looking dogs that ran fast with a wonderful physique. But when it came time to wiggle through the briar patch and really hunt, the only thing they were pursuing  was a trip back to the truck. With diligence and hard work, trainer Brad Cox appears to have Mandaloun on the right track. A great effort in the Kentucky Derby was followed with a determined win in the Pegasus Stakes. Only a nose from crossing the finish line first, this son of Into Mischief was full of run in this edition of the Haskell and has proven himself quite well.

Hot Rod Charlie has got a lot under the hood. When I was a kid we would see some of the wannabe guys roll up with that shiny GTO with sparkling paint and the Cragar SS mags. Then we open the hood and there just ain’t much there. Of course those shine running boys would have the beat up Camaro with Corvette rally wheels that didn’t look nearly as good. Open the hood and BAM there it was. Bored .40 over with three deuces and a hard hitting cam that could dust anything in the county. Trainer Doug O’Neill has fine tuned this Oxbow offspring into one running son of a gun. Even though he was disqualified, Charlie left little doubt about his determination and horsepower as he crossed the wire first.

So why did this unfortunate event occur? Somebody was making moonshine that didn’t know the recipe. Monmouth Park has instituted a “no whip” rule and it was in force for the Haskell. For those that don’t understand, the crop is used at times for the safety of all. Used as a reminder, a tap will help the horse stay straight when running down the lane. When Hot Rod Charlie began moving towards Mandaloun and into the path of Midnight Bourbon, the whip would have reminded him to stay straight and there likely would have been no incident. So in an effort to perhaps make things perceivably better, the concept crowd made them much worse as real safety was sacrificed because of a lack of an understanding of reality. Aunt Edna Belle made the breakfast because she knew how to make biscuits. Uncle Onzie made the moonshine because he understood the still.

Our final takeaway is this race tells us all we have some great action ahead on the road to the 2021 Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar.