Shadwell Stable’s undefeated multiple Grade II winner Mohaymen completed his final major preparations for the Grade I, $1 million Florida Derby on April 2 at Gulfstream Park with a half-mile breeze Thursday morning.
Ranked as the country’s leading Triple Crown contender, the 3-year-old Tapit colt was clocked in 48.95 seconds over the main track at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
Regular exercise rider Miguel Jaime was aboard for the move, which ranked ninth of 36 horses at the distance. It was Mohaymen’s third work since his 2 1/4-length victory in the Grade II Fountain of Youth Feb. 27 at Gulfstream, his fifth consecutive win and second this year following his season-opening triumph in the Grade II Holy Bull Stakes on January 30.
Already in Dubai, where he has several horses to run on Saturday’s World Cup program at Meydan led by Frosted in the $10 million main event, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin opted to move the work up one day with rain in the forecast all weekend in South Florida.
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“We’re OK. We got our work in. He went 48 and 4 and everything went well. It looks like it’s going to rain the next five days so we didn’t want to chance it,” McLaughlin said by phone from Dubai. “We would have probably been fine if we didn’t work at all but being that we could work, we wanted to do it. That’s why we work on Fridays, so we have Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday to work. It looked like rain every day so we wanted to get our last work in. If it rained and we didn’t get it in, we didn’t get it in. But he’s on a good schedule and it worked out well. We’re all happy.”
Though not able to watch in person, McLaughlin saw a video of the work sent to him by his assistant and sister-in-law Trish McLaughlin, whose husband, Neal, has been overlooking the team’s Dubai string since January.
“I got a tape of his work and Trish said it went fabulous,” Kiaran McLaughlin said. “He looked great and everything is on target.”
McLaughlin had no problem leaving Mohaymen with his team, which has been around the talented colt since he first arrived last summer at Saratoga Race Course. The trainer is scheduled to leave Dubai on Sunday for South Florida.
“I felt very comfortable with Miguel there and Trish and everybody,” he said. “It’s not ideal because you want to be there to see it, but I knew I left him there in good hands and everything went well.”
The 65th running of the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby is shaping up to be a showdown between Mohaymen and Nyquist, the unbeaten 2-year-old male champion of 2015. Stabled in California with trainer Doug O’Neill, he is scheduled to arrive March 28 at Gulfstream.
Also expected in the Florida Derby are stakes-winning Jacks or Better Farm homebred Fellowship; Gulfstream maiden winner Ifyousnoozeyoulose and stakes-placed Sawyers Mickey, both owned by Loooch Racing Stables, and Majesto, who broke his maiden Feb. 27 at Gulfstream.
Entries will be taken and post positions drawn on Wednesday, March 30.
“We’re ready to go. We wouldn’t change anything,” McLaughlin said. “We’ll just see how we draw and who enters.”