BOYNTON BEACH, FL – Mixed emotions prevailed at trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s barn on Sunday, the morning after Shadwell Stable’s multiple Grade 2 winner Mohaymen suffered his first career loss in the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
Though disappointed in the Tapit colt’s fourth-place finish behind undefeated champion Nyquist, McLaughlin was pleased with how Mohaymen emerged from the race, both mentally and physically.
“He came out of the race in good shape. He’s happy,” McLaughlin said as he overlooked Mohaymen’s stall just outside his barn office at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
“He’s never been beat and we thought he was invincible going in so, yeah, we’re a little down about the result and thought he could overcome everything,” he added. “But, we’re moving forward. We’re happy that he’s happy this morning and we can move forward to the Kentucky Derby.”
The 65th running of the Florida Derby featured a matchup of East vs. West in Mohaymen and Nyquist, who had shipped in from California the week of the race with a perfect 6-0 record including the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2) in his 3-year-old debut. Mohaymen opened his sophomore campaign with a pair of Gulfstream stakes wins, the Holy Bull (G2) and Fountain of Youth (G2).
Breaking from post nine of 10 as the 4-5 favorite, Mohaymen found himself wide throughout the 1 1/8-mile race while Nyquist led from start to finish from post four, dismissing Mohaymen’s brief challenge at the top of the stretch to win by 3 ¼ lengths.
Both Mohaymen and rider Junior Alvarado geared down in the stretch and wound up beaten 8 ¼ lengths over a main track that had taken rain intermittently during the 14-race program. McLaughlin said Alvarado, aboard for all six starts, would retain the mount for the Derby
“We aren’t going to make a change. Junior didn’t do anything wrong. It wasn’t his fault,” McLaughlin said. “We feel like it was a perfect storm of unfortunate things that happened with the track, raining earlier and then later. Basically it was very wet and we were very wide. We ran 54 feet further than the winner, but congratulations to Nyquist and their team. They had to run over the same racetrack under the same conditions and they did it better than us. Congratulations to them, because it was a big showdown. We’ll regroup and point for the Kentucky Derby and hope for the best.”
McLaughlin said Mohaymen will leave South Florida next week for Louisville, Ky. and do his training at Churchill Downs, where the Derby will be run May 7.
“He’s a pretty smart horse and he didn’t love the going yesterday,” McLaughlin said. “It wasn’t a hard race on him as far as him blowing and being stressed and head-and head. People thought maybe it wasn’t good to have a tough race right before the Derby. It’s not going to be a tough race on him, so we’ll throw it out and move on.
“We probably will go to Churchill and be there for two works. He’s fit and doesn’t need a lot of works. He needs to put on a few pounds so hopefully we can do that up there with the cooler weather. This track is great and we love it here. It was weird how hot it’s been and muggy the last few days, but we’ll go that way and train for the Derby.”
Source: Gulfstream Park