It was a chaotic Saturday at Parx, with a horse trying to bite a jockey in the final yards of one race and a controversial disqualification in another before order was restored in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby that was won by a colt trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith, the most dangerous big-race combination in modern American horse racing history.
Let's start at the end.
McKinzie had not raced in six months, but the colt who was Baffert's Derby horse in January, came right back to the form he displayed early this year when he stalked the early Pa. Derby pace, took over on the far turn and ran away from a challenge by Axelrod in the stretch.
Baffert, of course, won the Derby and the Triple Crown with Justify, one of the great substitutes ever. McKinzie had to miss all those spring and summer races with a hind end injury, but, deliberately, Baffert and his team brought the colt back to his top form and, on the first day of fall, McKinzie won Baffert's third Pa. Derby in five years
There was no controversy with McKinzie's victory, but there was plenty with the disqualification of Monomoy Girl from first place in the $1 million Cotillion, the race prior to the Pa. Derby. The brilliant 3-year-old filly, unbeaten in five starts this year and beaten just once in a nine-race career, held off the late charge of Midnight Bisou, but could not withstand an objection by Smith, Midnight's Bisou's rider.
Monomoy Girl, after an uncomfortable rail run, finally got clear on the far turn and looked for a few seconds like a an easy winner. Just then, Midnight Bisou emerged and was an obvious challenger. The rest of the fillies had long since disappeared. It was down to those two.
Florent Geroux, riding Monomoy Girl, obviously felt Midnight Bisou coming to his inside. He steered his filly over to take away Midnight Bisou's path, smart riding, but something that would draw attention.
When Smith then sent Midnight Bisou outside Monomoy Girl, Geroux again countered by moving his filly farther out into the track.
The margin was a neck. The fillies never made contact.
After the objection, the numbers blinked for several minutes before the stewards disqualified Monomoy Girl and made Midnight Bisou the winner, giving Smith his fourth Cotillion winner and a sweep of the two Grade I stakes.
So, no filly has yet been able to finish in front of Monomoy Girl this year, but she no longer has a perfect 2018.
The $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes was run just before the Cotillion and it was a reasonably normal race until the final 20 yards. Favored Firenze Fire was obviously going to hold off the upset bid of 17-1 shot Whereshetoldmetogo when, without warning, Whereshetoldmetogo either tried to bite Firenze Fire, the horse's jockey Irad Ortiz or both.