Kentucky native Kiaran McLaughlin is another who comes from the “D. Wayne Lukas School of Training Classic Winners” and while his best finish in any classic race on his own so far is Jazil’s victory in the 2006 Belmont Stakes (GI), he knows classic winners well thanks to Lukas and most especially some of Lukas’s top runners, such as 1988 Derby heroine Winning Colors and Breeders’ Cup winners Life’s Magic, Lady’s Secret, Sacahuista, Steinlen, Gulch, Twilight Ridge, Open Mind and many more.
McLaughlin has been on his own since 1993 when he took a position as top trainer for Godolphin, Darley and Shadwell, where he spent half the year in Dubai and half the year in New York. After earning titles as Nad Al Sheba’s leading trainer three times — 1994-95, 1995-96 and 2002-2003 — he returned to the United States permanently in 2003 and opened a public stable, though he still continued working for the Dubai aristocracy, conditioning their Breeders’ Cup winners Invasor and Lahudood.
So far in his career he’s tightened the girth on six horses in the Run for the Roses, with his best finisher being Closing Argument, who was second in 2005. His most recent starter, Frosted, was fourth to Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh last year.
In 13 years as a trainer, McLaughlin has sent out more than 6,300 starters to win nearly 1,400 races and earn nearly $96 million.
This year, McLaughlin has masterfully managed the campaign of Mohaymen, Shadwell’s $2.2 million son of Tapit, who lost the Florida Derby (GI) in his latest, which was also his first defeat in six career efforts. Offering no apologies for the colt’s lone defeat, McLaughlin has promised we’ll see the old Moyhamen under the Twin Spires. And if Mohaymen’s April 20 work — a half-mile in :46 4/5 in what appeared to be the easiest of fashions — is any indication, he’s a horsemen intent on keeping promises. And one important one he’s kept so far on this Triple Crown trail is the one he made to Mohaymen’s regular jockey, Junior Alvarado, who will be back aboard in two weeks despite the fact that the 30-year-old Venezuelan has never ridden in the Kentucky Derby.