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McLaughlin Barn Stocked With Talented 2YOs
Updated - 12/18/2014
 
He arrived at Gulfstream Park’s Championship Meet last year with an ace up his sleeve, but trainer Kiaran McLaughlin could be holding a full house in his return this winter.

Among the horses the Lexington, Ky. native may have in South Florida are a quartet of talented 2-year-olds led by Classy Class, Frosted and Imperia, each among the 23 single betting interests in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby future wager, along with Mawthooq, a 10 ½-length maiden winner on November 26 at Aqueduct.

That doesn’t include Ocean Knight, an impressive debut winner at Aqueduct on December 13; well-regarded Tapit colt Good Pick Nick or the unstarted Jess’s Dream, a son of two Horse of the Year titlists whose unveiling is expected to come during the Championship Meet which opened on December 6.
 
“We will have a few nice young horses,” said McLaughlin, who is stabled at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County. “We have 50 stalls at Palm Meadows, and hopefully we have 50 nice horses that fit. We feel good about Florida. We’re happy to be there, happy to be at Palm Meadows and hopefully we have a good winter.”

Last year, McLaughlin brought Grade 2 winner Cairo Prince to Gulfstream off a runner-up finish in the Remsen at Aqueduct. Considered the leading Triple Crown contender, Cairo Prince was an impressive winner of the Holy Bull (G2) before being hurt running fourth in the Florida Derby (G1) and subsequently retired.

McLaughlin was second in the Remsen again last month with Frosted, who came up a half-length short as the favorite after breaking from the outside of 13 horses and was eight lengths clear of third. Classy Class, owned by Cheyenne Stable, finished fourth after chasing the early pace.

Both Frosted, a son of Tapit, and Medaglia d’Oro-sired Imperia are owned by Godolphin Stable. Imperia made his first three starts on grass, winning the Pilgrim (G3) at Belmont Park and finishing a troubled 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) before rallying to be second, beaten a head in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs in his dirt debut.

“I said that maybe this was a good time to run him on the dirt and see if he would like it, rather than waiting until February to find out if he’s equally good on the dirt,” McLaughlin said. “Sometimes you start a horse on the turf because of the distance, and that’s what he wanted. We felt like we weren’t going to waste our time running short on the dirt, so we ran him long on the turf and he ran very well.”

Jess’s Dream, Curlin-sired Ocean Knight and Good Pick Nick are all owned by Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stable. Jess’s Dream is also by Curlin, the 2007-08 Horse of the Year and 2014 Hall of Famer, and is the first foal out of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. He is named for Banke’s late husband, Jess Jackson, who campaigned both Curlin and Rachel Alexandra and envisioned their mating.

“He is working very well and should get started before the year’s end,” McLaughlin said. “Obviously, he is very well-bred. He’s been working weekly and doing very well. He’s really improving mentally and physically and we hope for big things from him. He’s a talented colt. It’s nice to have him in the barn.”

Other notable McLaughlin horses are Florida-bred allowance winner Transparent, targeting the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 17; Mutin, a 4-year-old colt bred in France who won a Nov. 9 turf allowance at Aqueduct in his North American debut and being pointed to the $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2) on Jan. 10; 2-year-old filly Cavorting, winner of the Adirondack (G2) this summer; graded stakes-placed 3-year-old fillies Penwith and Divided Attention and juvenile filly Gap Year.

“We have some nice horses,” McLaughlin said, “possibly for the big races, we hope.”

McLaughlin ended the 2013-14 Championship meet with 12 wins and $631,294 in purse earnings, and has averaged 13 wins and $581,893 over the past three winters. Among his career graded stakes victories at Gulfstream are the Donn Handicap (G1) with Invasor in 2007 and Albertus Maximus in 2009; the 2011 Fountain of Youth (G2) with Soldat; the 2009 Davona Dale (G2) with Justwhistledixie and 2008 Mac Diarmida (G2) with Stream of Gold; the Very One (G3) in 2004, 2006 and 2012; and the Holy Bull both last year and in 2005 with Closing Argument.

Florida-bred Closing Argument gave McLaughlin his best finish in the Kentucky Derby, running second by a half-length at 71-1 to 50-1 winner Giacomo. He won the 2006 Belmont Stakes (G1) with Jazil and the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) with eventual Horse of the Year Invasor, and the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) with Lahudood.

Curlin Colt Earns Impressive Graduation
Updated - 12/14/2014
2nd at AQU MSW ($60K)  [6f] Winner: Ocean Knight, c, 2 by Curlin
Ocean Knight
© A. Coglianese
+OCEAN KNIGHT (c, 2, Curlin--Ocean Goddess, by Stormy Atlantic), who sold for $320,000 at the OBS March sale after working two furlongs in :20.3, displayed a speedy worktab leading up to this debut, including a best-of-51 half-mile in :48 over the Belmont training track Dec. 5. Racing in fifth early just off the leading pack, the 2-1 shot progressed to fourth through a half in :47.08. Sweeping to the front with a two-wide move in the lane, the bay instantly sailed clear to register a four-length victory over King Rontos (Unbridled’s Song) in 1:11.94. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0.
O-Stonestreet Stables LLC. B-Thor-Bred Stables LLC (KY). T-Kiaran McLaughlin
Darley Firster Impresses at the Big A
Updated - 12/14/2014
6th at AQU MSW ($60K)  [6f] Winner: Via Strata, f, 2 by Street Cry (Ire)
Via Strata
© A. Coglianese
6th-AQU, $60,000, Msw, 3yo/up, f/m, 6f, 1:13 1/5, ft.
+VIA STRATA (f, 3, Street Cry {Ire}--Golden Velvet {MGSW & GISP, $333,298}, by Seeking the Gold) displayed a speedy string of works leading up to this debut and was supported at even-money to get the job done here. Tracking from a close-up third through an opening quarter in :23.34, the dark bay quickly improved to stalk from second through a half in :47.66. Pouncing on the leader in early stretch, Via Strata coasted clear in the final furlong to don cap and gown by six lengths over Cat Ten (Greatness). The winner’s second dam is MGSW Caress (Storm Cat), who produced GISW sire Sky Mesa (Pulpit). This was the second win on the card for trainer Kiaran McLaughling, who won the second race with another first timer Ocean Knight (Curlin). Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $36,000. Click for the brisnet.com chart or VIDEO.
O/B-Darley (KY). T-Kiaran McLaughlin.
Imperia Hops on Kentucky Derby 2015 Trail for McLaughlin
Updated - 11/28/2014
Since his days as an assistant to Hall of Famer and four-time Kentucky Derby (Grade I) winner D. Wayne Lukas, a victory in the “Run for the Roses” on the first Saturday in May has been a goal for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
 
Given that he hails from Lexington, Ky., it’s a pretty good bet that his desire to win a Kentucky Derby was strong well before his Lukas years. And he came close to achieving that goal in 2005, when he saddled 71-1 longshot Closing Argument to a runner-up finish behind 50-1 shot Giacomo in that year’s Kentucky Derby. A half-length separated those horses.
 
With the 2015 running of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) now just a little over 150 days away, McLaughlin has a quartet of 2-year-olds that could possess the right stuff to emerge as significant players on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points system in the coming weeks.
 
That group includes a pair of entrants in Saturday’s Remsen (GII) at Aqueduct: Godolphin Racing’s Frosted and Cheyenne Stables LLC’s Classy Class. Both have displayed enough promise to be included among the 23 individual horses in the opening pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”) that opens a three-day run on Friday. McLaughlin’s group officially became a foursome when Shadwell Stable’s Mawthooq scored a 10 ½-length maiden victory at Aqueduct on Thursday in his second-career start.
 
The final member of McLaughlin’s small army is Imperia, a son of Medaglia d’Oro who will carry Godolphin’s colors at Churchill Downs in Saturday’s 88th running of the $200,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (GII), a 1 1/16-mile race that is the co-feature with the $200,000-added Golden Rod (GII) for 2-year-old fillies on the track’s popular “Stars of Tomorrow II” program.
 
Imperia narrowly missed in his August racing debut in a runner-up finish in a 1 1/16-mile grass race at Saratoga, but stepped immediately into stakes competition and won the Pilgrim (GIII) on the Belmont Park turf in late September. 
 
The Pilgrim victory earned Imperia a shot at the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GI) at Santa Anita, but a myriad of traffic problems prevented him to do much more than break out of a strong gallop during the 1 1/16-mile race. He finished 10th of 14, but was beaten by only 3 ¾ lengths by the victorious Hootenanny.
 
But Imperia came of the race well and has two strong works at Florida’s Palm Meadows to his credit since his trouble-plagued Breeders’ Cup journey, and McLaughlin decided now was the time to see if he can handle dirt and that Churchill Downs was a good spot for the colt for that test.
 
“He’s trained very well on dirt,” McLaughlin said. “Sometimes you start a horse on the turf because of the distance, and that’s what he wanted. We felt like we weren’t going to waste our time running short on the dirt, so we ran him long of the turf and he ran very well.”
 
Of Imperia’s next start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, McLaughlin said his colt “just didn’t have anywhere to run.” But after that he had a discussion with Shadwell’s Jimmy Bell that led to his presence in the field of 12 2-year-olds for Saturday’s Kentucky Jockey Club.
 
“I said that maybe this was a good time to run him on the dirt and see if he would like it, rather than waiting until February to find out if he’s equally as good on the dirt,” McLaughlin recalled. “So we decided to go to Churchill to see if he likes that dirt.” 
 
A big run by Imperia, McLaughin’s third Kentucky Derby Future Wager representative, and strong efforts by his Remsen hopes would only solidify what is perceived at this early stage to be one of the strongest hands held by any trainer looking toward the 2015 Spring Classics.
 
“We do have four colts that are possible,” he said. “We hope Imperia runs well enough that we can stay on the dirt. If not, we’ll go back to turf. But the other three are all dirt horses.”
 
McLaughlin will stay in New York to saddle his Remsen duo, so his brother Neal will come to Churchill Downs to send Imperia into the starting gate for the Kentucky Jockey Club.
 
Source: Churchill Downs
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