Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey ranks fourth all time with 23
stakes victories at Keeneland. The 62-year-old Lexington native hopes to
add to that total at the 16-day meet that begins Friday and build some
momentum toward the first Saturday in May some 75 miles west of here
with Orb in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1).
“I will be here the whole meet except for a couple of days when I go
to New York,” said McGaughey, whose Keeneland string arrived from
Florida on Monday.
The first order of business for McGaughey will be sending out defending champion Data Link in the $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) on Friday, April 12. In that race he most likely will face 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan.
“I think you might see a different dimension to him than the last
time he faced Wise Dan,” McGaughey said, referring to Data Link’s
fifth-place finish to Wise Dan in last fall’s Shadwell Turf Mile (G1).
“He was way too far back the last time he faced Wise Dan and now he can
lay closer. The Canadian Turf (Stakes [G3], which he won on February 23)
was a good race and he has been training really well. I am pleased with
McGaughey also has Abaco for the April 13 Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) and five-time graded stakes winner Boisterous as a possible starter in the April 26 Elkhorn Stakes (G2).
Last year’s Elkhorn winner, Point of Entry, who defeated Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Animal Kingdom in
the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1), is at Keeneland and being
pointed to the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on
May 4. Also at Keeneland is Hungry Island, the third-place finisher in last fall’s First Lady Stakes (G1) here.
Orb, winner of last Saturday’s Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) and
the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) in February, will
remain at Payson Park in South Florida a bit longer, according to
“It is quieter down there,” said McGaughey, who has had six starters in the Kentucky Derby, none since Saarland in 2002.
“After I left Payson around noon on Sunday, I got a little excited,
but five weeks to the Derby is a long way off,” said McGaughey, whose
best Derby finish came in 1989 with Easy Goer. “When you get over there, you have to enjoy the moment and don’t let it mess your mind up.”