Mohaymen Gives McLaughlin Major Triple Crown Contender
Dec 11, 2015
Multiple-Graded Stakes Winner Pointing to $350,000 Holy Bull (G2) Jan. 30 HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– While coming to South Florida with a top Triple Crown prospect is nothing new for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, even he admits that this year is something different.
Among the four dozen horses McLaughlin has stabled at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, is Shadwell Stable’s Mohaymen, a striking gray son of Tapit being touted as the top contender on the East Coast.
Following on the heels of Cairo Prince two years ago and Frosted last winter, Mohaymen has something those horses did not: a perfect record. Following a victory in his Sept. 19 unveiling at Belmont Park, he won back-to-back Grade 2 stakes at Aqueduct in November, the one-mile Nashua and 1 1/8-mile Remsen, 24 days apart.
“We loved Cairo Prince and we loved Frosted. Cairo Prince, unfortunately, got injured but he was a very nice horse, and we did well with Frosted,” McLaughlin said. “Now we’re undefeated, three-for-three. I’d have to say this is our best prospect yet for the first Saturday in May.”
Purchased for a sales-topping $2.2 million at Keeneland’s yearling auction last September, Mohaymen is being pointed to the $350,000 Holy Bull (G2) Jan. 30. Gulfstream’s series of races for 3-year-olds continues with the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) Feb. 27 and the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) April 2.
“I like having the uninterrupted training and racing with the weather in Florida, and it’s 60 days [from the Remsen]. The timing is great,” McLaughlin said. “He never gets tired. He doesn’t blow out a match after works or races. That’s something you can’t see when you pay $2.2 million for them. His mechanics, his mechanism of breathing and his movements are flawless so far.”
Mohaymen joined McLaughlin’s barn over the summer, getting his first timed work July 5. He trained steadily at Saratoga before returning to Belmont for his debut, a front-running half-length victory going six furlongs.
“He always did everything right. He didn’t get to us until June 23 because of immature knees,” McLaughlin said. “He needed some extra time and they did a great job with him. Since then he hasn’t missed a day and he’s improved every day.”
In the Nashua, Mohaymen overcame some pre-race antics both in the paddock and at the gate, rating behind horses until taking over at the top of the stretch and drawing away to win by 1 ¾ lengths. He faced a new challenge in the Remsen pinned down inside behind horses, but split horses without hesitation after finding a seam turning for home and prevailed by 1 ½ lengths.
“He reared up twice in the saddling area before the Nashua which made me a little nervous because he had never done anything wrong. He’s a very professional gentleman to train and be around. He also was reluctant to load in the gate that day, and that was new,” McLaughlin said. “After the race, we gate-schooled him several times. He acted up the first time we went and then he got better and better and was great, and he got over whatever he was reluctant about.”
In addition to the extra morning work, McLaughlin also had regular rider Junior Alvarado aboard for Mohaymen’s lone breeze 10 days prior to the Remsen, which turned out to be a near carbon copy of the race.
“We had the pony come in and be there as a pacifier for him a little bit, and he was perfect before and at the gate,” McLaughlin said. “We only had one work because it was back in 24 days, and Junior worked him behind two horses and took a lot of dirt. I think that helped a lot for horse and jockey on Remsen day. The horse was fine and Junior was confident to take the dirt and sit back in second or third, then he split horses turning for home and was very impressive. Everything went well.”
Also with McLaughlin is Godolphin’s 2-year-old colt Annual Report, winner of the Futurity (G2) at Belmont who most recently ran fifth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2); Cavorting, whose multiple graded stakes wins include the Test (G1) this summer; Gap Year, a 3-year-old turf filly by Bernardini; and sophomores Marking, a winner of his only two starts this fall in New York, and Watershed, fourth in the King’s Bishop (G1).
“We’re happy to be there, happy to be at Palm Meadows, and hopefully we have a good winter,” McLaughlin said.