Mo­hay­men starts Derby drive

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Mike Welsch

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Kiaran McLaugh­lin has found it dif­fi­cult to con­tain his en­thu­si­asm for his un­de­feated Ken­tucky Derby prospect Mo­hay­men, and rightly so. The $2.2 mil­lion year­ling pur­chase by Tapit did ev­ery­thing asked of him at 2, be­com­ing an Eclipse Award fi­nal­ist af­ter win­ning all three of his starts, in­clud­ing the Nashua and Rem­sen stakes.

And McLaugh­lin is con­fi­dent that Mo­hay­men will get even bet­ter as a 3-year-old, a the­ory that will get tested for the first time Satur­day, when Mo­hay­men goes post­ward as the heavy fa­vorite in the $350,000 Holy Bull, the first of two ma­jor preps at Gulf­stream Park lead­ing up to the $1 mil­lion Florida Derby on April 2.

The im­pos­ing pres­ence of Mo­hay­men lim­ited the field for the Grade 2 Holy Bull to only six starters, with 10 Ken­tucky Derby qual­i­fy­ing points go­ing to the win­ner. The 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull is one of five 3-yearold stakes on Satur­day’s card, which also in­cludes the Grade 2 Swale and its filly coun­ter­part, the Grade 2 For­ward Gal, along with the Grade 3 Sweet­est Chant and the Kit­ten’s Joy. The last two are to be de­cided on turf, weather per­mit­ting.

McLaugh­lin has had great suc­cess the past two years in the Holy Bull, win­ning the race with Cairo Prince in 2014 and fin­ish­ing se­cond with Frosted last win­ter, which puts his as­sess­ment of Mo­hay­men into proper per­spec­tive.

“He’s the best we’ve ever had,” said McLaugh­lin. “We’ve had some good prospects in the past but never one who was 3 for 3 as a 2-year-old and one of the fa­vorites from the start of the spring races.”

McLaugh­lin has been ef­fu­sive in his praise for the way Mo­hay­men has trained up to the Holy Bull since ar­riv­ing at the Palm Mead­ows train­ing cen­ter this win­ter, de­scrib­ing his fi­nal five-fur­long prep in

59.40 sec­onds Jan. 21 with just one word: “Wow!”

“He works well ev­ery time and doesn’t blow a match when he comes back,” said McLaugh­lin.

Mo­hay­men will break from post 2 un­der 120 pounds and reg­u­lar rider Ju­nior Al­varado.

Al­though Mo­hay­men is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered the horse to beat in the Holy Bull, Green­pointcru­sader is the only Grade 1 win­ner in the field, hav­ing cap­tured the one-mile Cham­pagne in im­pres­sive fash­ion at Bel­mont Park on Oct. 3. The per­for­mance earned him the fa­vorite’s role in the Breed­ers’ Cup Ju­ve­nile, but Green­pointcru­sader dropped in near the rear of the 14-horse field early on and never got un­tracked, ral­ly­ing wide to fin­ish sev­enth be­hind the even­tual 2-year-old male cham­pion, Nyquist.

“He’s train­ing well, he’s com­ing up to the race in good

shape, he’s fit, and I’m ex­pect­ing a big ef­fort out of him on Satur­day,” said trainer Do­minick Schet­tino.

John Ve­lazquez will be aboard Green­pointcru­sader, who car­ries the high weight of 122 pounds un­der the al­lowance con­di­tions of the race.

Like Mo­hay­men, Con­quest Big E is a son of Tapit, and like Green­pointcru­sader, he was a bit of a dis­ap­point­ment in the BC Ju­ve­nile. Con­quest Big E fin­ished eighth af­ter rac­ing within strik­ing dis­tance early in the race. Con­quest Big E bounced back to close out his 2-year-old cam­paign with a two-length al­lowance win at Churchill Downs.

“This horse has to prove how far he can go and that he can run with the big boys,” said trainer Mark Casse. “He trains like a re­ally good horse. So far, in my mind, he’s only run like a good horse. I’m still wait­ing for the ‘re­ally’ part. This will be a good test for him.”

Com­plet­ing the lineup are In Re­al­ity Stakes win­ner Fel­low­ship, Fron­tier Ranger, and Per­fect Saint.


Mo­hay­men, by Tapit (Bey­ers: 95-89-87)

◗ He not only proved he could stay 1 1/8 miles but showed a great deal of ma­tu­rity when tak­ing dirt and split­ting a nar­row open­ing en route to vic­tory in the Rem­sen.

◗ Two of the three horses who have come back out of the Rem­sen won their next start, in­clud­ing run­ner-up Flex­i­bil­ity, who flat­tered Mo­hay­men’s per­for­mance by cruis­ing to vic­tory in the Grade 3 Jerome in his 3-year-old de­but.

Green­pointcru­sader, by Bernar­dini (Last 3 Bey­ers: 82-94-82)

◗ The BC Ju­ve­nile has al­ready be­come a key race. Of the four starters to have run back, Ex­ag­ger­a­tor (fourth) won the Delta Jack­pot, Con­quest Big E (eighth) won the afore­men­tioned al­lowance race, and Isotherm (13th) fin­ished se­cond, beaten a head, in the Grade 3 Da­nia Beach here this month.

Con­quest Big E, by Tapit (Last 3 Bey­ers: 84-81-75)

◗ His Beyer Speed Fig­ures have im­proved with ev­ery start, but he’s yet to win on a fast track. His vic­to­ries came over sloppy sur­faces at Churchill Downs and Keeneland.

◗ With lit­tle speed signed on for the race, Casse ex­pects to see Con­quest Big E close to or on the lead.


Cham­pagne win­ner Green­pointcru­sader (above) fig­ures to give Mo­hay­men a stiff chal­lenge in the Holy Bull.

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