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Shug Brings Strong Turf Class to Florida

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Photo: NYRA

Shug McGaughey’s Hall of Fame career was built on good old American dirt with a remarkable collection of main-track stars, such as Easy Goer, Personal Ensign, Inside Information, Heavenly Prize and Vanlandingham, among so many others.

As much as the 61-year-old Kentuckian has accomplished while competing at Thoroughbred racing’s highest level, his resume is being rounded out by a new star, Point of Entry, a multiple Grade 1 stakes-winning turf performer. After winning an entry-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park last season, the 4-year-old son of Dynaformer developed into a turf monster with consecutive Grade 1 victories in the Man o’ War, Sword Dancer and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.

“He’s new to me, because I never had a horse as good as him that wants to run long on the grass,” McGaughey said. “I never won the Man o’War, I never won the Sword Dancer, I never won the Turf Classic, so he opened up a lot of doors for me that’s been fun to participate in.”

A five-race winning streak was snapped in the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 3, when he lacked running room before launching a strong late bid to miss catching Little Mike by a half-length. The defeat likely cost Point of Entry the Eclipse Award for champion turf male and possibly the Horse of the Year title for 2012.

“There’ll always be disappointment. It’s just the way it is. That’s why they line them up.   He ran a strong race,” McGaughey said.

Back in training at Payson Park, Point of Entry is being pointed for the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) on Feb. 9.  Depending on how he comes out of that race, in which he is likely to clash with 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, Point of Entry will probably be shipped to Dubai for a start in the $5 million Sheema Classic on the undercard of the  $6 million Dubai World Cup in late March.

“It could be on the radar. It’s penciled in. It’s something I’m thinking about,” McGaughey said.

Point of Entry would be the first McGaughey-trained horse to run in Dubai, but his trainer has no qualms about making the long ship.

“Our goal is for the Breeders’ Cup next year, so we’ll have plenty of time if he does make it to Dubai,” he said.

Point of Entry tops an unusually strong group of  McGaughey-trained turf runners, including Grade 1 stakes-winner Data Link, multiple –stakes winner Boisterous, and a very promising filly, Abaco.

Data Link won and allowance race at Gulfstream early last season before going on to win the Maker’s Mark (G1) at Keeneland in April. The son of War Front has won two Grade 2 races this year, including the Monmouth Stakes in June and the Citation Handicap at Hollywood on Nov. 23.

“He had a couple weeks off. He’s about ready to start back training. We’ll probably point him to the Canadian (G3, Feb. 23) down here,” McGaughey said.

Boisterous had captured the Knickerbocker (G3) at Belmont and the Red Smith Handicap (G2) at Aqueduct before finishing second in the River City (G3) at Churchill last time out.

McGaughey said he hasn’t yet set a schedule for the son of Distorted Humor, but he doesn’t expect any problems keeping his turf stars apart.

“I’m not worried about that. There are enough races around for all of them,” he said.
Abaco, who captured her fourth straight race in a turf allowance for fillies and mares at Gulfstream on Dec. 9, is likely to start next in the Suwannee River (G3) on Feb. 9.
The 4-year-old daughter of Giant’s Causeway, who had always shown McGaughey a lot of promise, didn’t break her maiden until her ninth start on July 26 at Saratoga, but she hasn’t lost since that day.

“A lot of times you’ll see a horse keep knocking on the door and once they win, they keep winning. We always felt like she was OK.”
 

 

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