Classifieds powered by Gulf News

McLaughlin primed for big weekend

Former UAE champion handlers has four representatives at Breeders’ Cup

Image Credit: AP
Jockeys Gary Stevens (left) and Laffit Pincay, Jr pose atop a 3D street painting by artist Kurt Wenner following a news conference to announce the official return of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to the city of Los Angeles last Thursday.
Gulf News

Dubai: Godolphin handler Kiaran McLaughlin remained upbeat after his four Breeders’ Cup hopefuls continued their positive build-up to this weekend’s big-race meeting at Santa Anita Park in California.

Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) contender Alpha has been hitting all the right buttons over the last couple of days, encouraging McLaughlin to turn his back on a less-than-perfect draw that the Darley-bred son of Bernandini has been handed for the 2,000 metre contest.

“If I could have picked a number out of a hat, I would have preferred stall six for Alpha because six and 12 go in last but three is fine,” the handler told the Godolphin website.

“I hope he stands and behaves. Alpha is good in the stalls in the mornings but he did have a problem at Parx [his last race — the Grade Two Pennsylvania Derby] and broke poorly.

“Ramon Dominguez, his jockey, knows Alpha very well now and he is very good at the start.”

McLaughlin, who was the leading trainer in the UAE on three occasions between 1994-95, 1995–96 and 2002-2003, won the Classic in 2006 with Invasor.

Practice sessions

Meanwhile, Emcee and Fortify also worked on the main dirt track at Santa Anita where they cantered for a mile before going through the gate. Alpha and Questing did the same.

McLaughlin said: “We take them through the gate mainly for the gate crew to get to know the horses before raceday. I was very happy with them.”

The American also reported that he was pleased with the stall positions his horses were allocated at the Post Position draw on Tuesday.

Emcee was drawn seven of nine in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) while Fortify was handed stall eight in the nine-runner Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) over 1,700 metres.

Questing, who will contest the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) on Friday, will break from stall four in the eight-runner event.

Happy with positions

“Fortify is on the outside in eight of nine which is good as he won’t be in the stalls for long and can see what is going on inside,” McLaughlin said.

“Questing is four of eight, so she will go in last and hopefully break well while Emcee is seven of nine which is fine. So everything went well with the draw.”

Multiple graded stakes winner Game on Dude is the early favourite to win the Classic and end Bob Baffert’s long wait for victory in America’s premier thoroughbred horse race of the year. Game on Dude’s is yet to lose a race over Santa Anita’s dirt track.

Game on Dude, who was beaten a length and a half by Drosselmeyer in the race 12 months ago, also contested the $10 million (Dh36.7 million) Dubai World Cup (G1) where he finished a disappointing 12th behind the winner Monterosso.