McLaughlin's 3-year-olds Gearing Up
By Dave Joseph
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has a lot to look forward to in the next 10 days, including saddling two of the favorites Feb. 26 in the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) and $150,000 Hutcheson (G2).
In the 1 1/8th mile Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth, McLaughlin is excited about saddling Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) runnerup Soldat, who enters the race off a 10 ¾ length victory Jan. 21 over a sloppy track against allowance company. On the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth undercard, McLaughlin will send out Crossbow in the seven- furlong Hutcheson. The son of Bernardini will enter the Hutcheson off a game victory Jan. 29 also against allowance company.
“They’re both on the right work pattern,” said McLaughlin recently. “They’ll work Saturday for (Feb. 26).”
For Soldat, a 3-year-old son of War Front, there is still the question of how he will handle a fast track. After starting his career last summer with second-place finishes across muddy and good tracks in New York, Soldat broke his maiden Sept. 3 across the turf in the With Anticipation (G3) at Saratoga. After second-place finishes across the turf in the Pilgrim (G3) and Breeders’ Cup, Soldat began his 3-year-old campaign with his impressive victory in the slop at Gulfstream.
“He’s training really well and he’s on a great schedule,” said McLaughlin of Soldat. “It’s five weeks since his last race to the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth, then five weeks to the Florida Derby (G1) and five weeks to the Kentucky Derby. We like that.
“My belief is when you’re trying to get to the first Saturday in May you don’t want to have a lot of down days, and he’s been going strong for a year – from when he ran at Belmont as a 2-year-old. We haven’t had any setbacks and that’s important for a great foundation to go 10 furlongs the first Saturday in May. He’s battled tested, as some people would say, and it’s exciting to know he’s doing as well as he’s doing. And we always have the turf to go back to if we have to.”
Another promising 3-year-old in McLaughlin’s barn is Rattlesnake Bridge, who broke his maiden Saturday at first asking across six furlongs in 1:11.62. The son of Tapit won by 1 ¼ lengths despite racing greenly.
“A lot green,” added McLaughlin with a smile creasing his face. “But that was on raw talent. Hopefully, we’ll come on a lot from there and help the jock a little bit switching leads and not being so green. But he’s a talented colt. We’re probably looking at a ‘one other than’ in March in New York or here, seven furlongs to a mile.”
After saddling Soldat and Crossbow on Feb. 26, McLaughlin will come back the following day with in the $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3) with Yankee Fourtune, winner of five consecutive races across the turf, including the Nov. 13 Commonwealth Turf (G3) at Churchill Downs and the Oct. 9 Hawthorne Derby (G3).
“We gave him a little freshener so he may need one first race back, but he’s a nice horse,” McLaughlin said.