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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Shadwell Stable’s Mohaymen opened his 3-year-old campaign in impressive fashion late Saturday afternoon, enhancing his reputation as the top Triple Crown contender on the East Coast with a powerful 3 ½-length victory in the $350,000 Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
Under regular rider Junior Alvarado, the gray or roan Tapit colt took command of the 1 1/16-mile race rounding the far turn and drew away from Grade 1 winner Greenpointcrusader down the stretch with authority to hit the wire in 1:42.07 over a fast main track.
Greenpointcrusader was a clear second, 2 ½ lengths ahead of late-running Florida-bred Fellowship, followed by Conquest Big E, Frontier Ranger and Perfect Saint. The 27th running of the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull was the last of five stakes, four of them graded, on Saturday’s 12-race program.
It was the fourth victory in as many starts for Mohaymen, an Eclipse Award finalist for champion 2-year-old male after going 3-0 last year including wins in the Nashua (G2) and Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct Racetrack.
“He took my breath away. Today was pretty special,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who won the 2014 Holy Bull with Cairo Prince and was second last year with Frosted. “It looked like on paper that he might break and be on the lead because there wasn’t much pace. When that didn’t happen I was a little nervous into the first turn and around the turn, but all went great. He’s just a special horse. It makes it easy for us to train and to ride.”
Sent off as the 1-5 favorite, Mohaymen ($2.60) was off slowly after being bumped slightly out of post two, but quickly got into good position on the inside as 50-1 long shot Perfect Saint led through a quarter-mile in 24.64 seconds chased by Greenpointcrusader, winner of the Champagne (G1) last fall who took over the top spot following a half in 49.06.
Alvarado switched Mohaymen in between the two front-runners as the field left the backstretch and effortlessly assumed the lead rounding the far turn, gathering momentum approaching the stretch and cruising to the wire under a hand ride.
“He didn’t break as well as I wanted him to, but I knew it wasn’t going to be a problem. Mentally, he’s so mature,” Alvarado said. “I just waited and waited to see what Johnny [Velazquez aboard Greenpointcrusader] was going to do. He left me a little room but sometimes that can be a little trap. It got to a point where he didn’t come inside and the horse in front was backing up so I said, ‘I’ve got the best horse. It’s time to make my own move.’ After that, it was pretty much over.”
It was the first meeting between Mohaymen and Greenpointcrusader, the only other graded stakes winner in the field who was also making his sophomore debut after ending 2014 finishing a rallying seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
“It was a very good effort,” Velazquez said. “I didn’t want to be on the lead but that’s the way we broke. I took the chance to hold the favorite in there a little while, but he was better than me today.”
A sales-topping $2.2 million yearling out of the Dixie Union mare Justwhistledixie, Mohaymen pushed his career bankroll to $559,830. McLaughlin said he is likely to come back in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) Feb. 27 at Gulfstream with an eye on the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) April 2.
“We just think more experience is fine, especially the way he’s doing it. I don’t think he needs to skip races,” he said. “It’s just a real pleasure to have such a star in the barn for Sheikh Hamdan and Shadwell. I’ve trained for them for 23 years, and I trained the mother, so it’s pretty special.”
Holy Bull (G2) Quotes
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin (Mohaymen): “He took my breath away. Today was pretty special. It looked like on paper that he might break and be on the lead because there wasn’t much pace. When that didn’t happen, I was a little nervous into the first turn and around the turn. But all went great. He’s just a special horse. It makes it easy for us to train and to ride.”
“[He’ll probably go next in the] Fountain of Youth. We just think more experience is fine, especially the way he’s doing it. I don’t think he needs to skip races. I think he did it pretty much in hand today, so it wasn’t going to be a hard effort. We did have to skip the middle one with Cairo Prince because he won impressively and ran hard. This looked like a pretty easy race. I will talk to Rick Nichols and he will speak to Sheikh Hamdan but he will probably go to the Fountain of Youth.”
“He’s a real special colt and does everything right, and I was real glad to see that he did everything right. I was a little nervous. I had the pony come into the paddock but stay away from him just in case we needed him. It’s just a real pleasure to have such a star in the barn for Sheikh Hamdan and Shadwell. I’ve trained for them for 23 years, and I trained the mother, so it’s pretty special.”
“He did the same thing in the Remsen. He beat a couple of nice horses in there and finished very strong. We don’t need to see anything different.”
Shadwell Stables U.S. Racing Manager Rick Nichols (Mohaymen): “Just chills up and down the back. He’s just really good. We know he’s been good, but this really proves he’s that kind of horse. He beat a Grade 1 winner and it looked to me like he was doing it pretty easy. He had his ears pricked. He was happy. Kiaran and his team have done a fantastic job with him. We’ll see how he comes out, talk to Kiaran and talk to Sheikh Hamdan. Our original plan was if he liked this track and ran well we’d probably leave him here, maybe the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby. We’ll see how he comes out and see what the boss thinks.”
Jockey Junior Alvarado (Mohaymen): “He didn’t break as well as I wanted him to, but I knew it was going to be a problem. Mentally, he’s so mature. He does whatever I want. I just waited and waited to see what Johnny (Velazquez aboard Greenpointcrusader) was going to do. He left me a little room, but sometimes that can be a little trap. I just waited and waited and then it got to a point where he didn’t come inside and the horse in front was backing up, so I said, ‘I’ve got the best horse. It’s time to making my own move. After that it was pretty much over. I could have gone around (again) easily with him. I still had plenty of horse. You can feel the acceleration he has, and it’s not me asking him.”
Jockey John Velazquez (2nd-place finisher Greenpointcrusader): “It was a very good effort. I didn’t want to be on the lead, but that’s the way we broke. I took the chance to hold the favorite (Mohaymen) in there a little while, but he was better than me today.”
Trainer Stanley Gold (3rd-place finisher Fellowship): “I’m really happy with that. He was running and considering that this was a mile and a sixteenth and the horses he was running against, this was big. Farther distance won’t be a problem with him, so we’re going to move on.”
Source: Gulfstream Park
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