Longtime McLaughlin assistant Magnuson ventures out on his own

August 28, 2016 09:42am
Saratoga starting gate 2014.
Photo: NYRA

As the longtime assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, Artie Magnuson has been around plenty of good horses for countless big races. Even so, the 50-year-old native of nearby Clifton Park, N.Y. admits he will be a bit nervous for Monday's seventh race at Saratoga.

Magnuson will saddle Kirsten Morehouse's 2-year-old homebred gelding Callant for his debut in the seven-furlong maiden event for juvenile state-breds. Jose Lezcano will ride from post 7 in a field of 13 that includes three also-eligibles.

Callant will be the second horse Magnuson has saddled at the meet since he left Team McLaughlin after more than two decades following last summer's Saratoga meet. Vaughn, a 3-year-old filly making her first career start for owner Jeffrey Cohn, was off the board in a maiden race August 25.

"You feel some butterflies just to make sure they get saddled properly and get in the gate properly. The racing part will work itself out down the road," Magnuson said. "[Callant] is a nice horse. First time out is tough sometimes but down the road this fall I really like him. It's all good. It's all looking up."

Magnuson had worked with McLaughlin since 1990, when the latter was an assistant for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. He followed McLaughlin when he went on his own, including several years in Dubai, before returning stateside in 2003.

For 15 summers and winters, Magnuson was in charge of McLaughlin's New York string at Belmont Park. Last summer was his first in a work capacity at Saratoga, having relocated to the suburb of Delmar, N.Y. after his attorney wife, Kelly, took a job at an Albany law firm.

"We moved the whole family upstate for a few different reasons," Magnuson said. "I was downstate on Long Island for most of the time. It was kind of neat to come back again last year."

Following last summer's meet Magnuson and his son, Michael Caruso, opened Across The Board Stables in the Schenectady County town of Princetown. The 65-acre property is a full-service breaking, training, layup and sales prep operation.

"I always stayed with the horses," he said. "We've got 25 horses there. We're legging some up and then we've got some recuperating after surgery and we're breaking a few youngsters. A little bit of everything. A few of them have followed us to the track. We're lucky we have good people to train for and we'll see where it takes us. It's a lot of fun."

Magnuson has four stalls at the adjacent harness track this summer and every day sees McLaughlin, his brother and assistant Neal and wife Trish, and many former co-workers he considers more of an extension of his family.

"Kiaran has been great to me. He kept me working with him right until they left last year," Magnuson said. "I'm always texting the whole team, 'Well done,' and 'Good job.' I'll sit and watch horses train with Neal, Trish, Kiaran and the whole gang, and it's great. I've got a picture on my desk at the farm of all of us. It's like a big family."

When the large outfits leave Saratoga after the six-week meet concludes September 5, Magnuson will bring his horses back on the grounds. He is also considering having a presence at Belmont once the weather turns colder.

"We hope to start a few here at the meet. We'll have two at least, maybe three. We want to be New York people. We don't want to ship out of town. We want to run here and look to build on that. It's one day at a time, one season at a time," he said. "We live about 20 minutes from the farm. We're using a little bit of fuel getting to the farm and the track, back and forth. The winter there might be some Amtrak involved. We'll see if it makes sense to head downstate for the winter. We're excited about it."
*         *         *
A trio of Grade 1 races highlights the closing weekend stakes at Saratoga as the meet wraps up 40 days of racing with the $600,000 Woodward and the $350,000 Spinaway for 2-year-old fillies on Saturday and the $350,000 Hopeful for juveniles on Labor Day, Monday, September 5. 

Also Saturday are the Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac and the Grade 3, $300,000 Glens Falls, with Sunday's card featuring the Grade 2, $300,000 Prioress for sophomore filly sprinters. Sharing the card with the Hopeful on Closing Day will be the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch on the turf. 

Seven older horses are expected to contest the 1 1/8-mile Woodward, topped by Godolphin Racing's Frosted. The gray Tapit colt, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, enters off back-to-back Grade 1 victories: his record-setting 14 ¼-length tour de force in the Metropolitan Handicap, which earned him a 123 Beyer Speed Figure, and his front-running, two-length victory in the Whitney earlier in the meet.

McLaughlin also will saddle Mubtaahij, most recently third to Effinex and Samraat in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap. Owned by Essafinaat, the Irish-bred raced primarily overseas before being sent to McLaughlin, but did finish fourth in the 2015 Belmont behind Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and eighth in the Kentucky Derby while in the care of Michael de Kock.

Likely to enter as well are Bradester, who carries a three-race win streak into the race including victories in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster and Grade 2 Monmouth Cup; Breaking Lucky, winner of the Grade 3 Seagram Cup at Woodbine last out; Samraat, who earned a lifetime-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure when second in the Suburban; Tale of Verve, who took an optional claimer on July 23, and the Nick Zito-trained Catholic Cowboy. 

Heading the hopefuls for the seven-furlong Spinaway are the Todd Pletcher-trained Sweet Loretta, a 4 ¼-length winner of the Grade 3 Schuylerville on Opening Day, and Runway Doll, an eye-catching 13 ½-length maiden winner for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen on July 31.

Pretty City Dancer, winner of the Debutante on July 2 at Churchill Downs; the Pletcher-trained Cherry Lodge, a front-running maiden winner on August 7; and Schuylerville runner-up Fun are also expected for the Spinaway, a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita Park in November.

The Saranac, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on the turf, is expected to feature the 1-2-3- finishers from the Grade 2 Hall of Fame in Camelot Kitten, Airoforce, and Strike Midnight along with Call Provision, winner of an allowance facing New York-breds on August 11; Keepthedreamalive, making his stakes debut; and Ray's the Bar, who took a 1 3/16-mile first-level allowance on July 30.

The 1 3/8-mile Glens Falls reunites Guapaza, Suffused, and Achnaha, the first three finishers in the Grade 3 Waya on August 6. Likely as well for the 1 3/8-mile turf race are Arles, Ball Dancing, Gap Year, Havana Moon, and Photo Call. Desiree Clary is possible.

Sunday's six-furlong Prioress is expected to attract Grade 1 Mother Goose winner Off the Tracks, most recently third in the Grade 1 Test; Appealing Maggie, a 3 ¾-length victress in the Miss Woodford on July 17 at Monmouth; California invader Coniah, third in the Grade 1 Rancho Bernardino Handicap on August 17 at Del Mar; and Grade 3 Miss Preakness winner Lost Raven, along with Dearest, Kareena, Lucy N Ethel, and Takrees. Test winner Paola Queen is questionable.

Grade 3 Sanford winner Bitumen, Grade 3 Bashford Manor winner Classic Empire, and Rockville Centre winner Runaway Lute are among the stakes winners likely for the seven-furlong Hopeful, with recent maiden winners Fact Finding, Practical Joke, and Royal Copy probable as well.

Completing the stakes action is the Bernard Baruch, with the cast likely to include Shining Copper and Jay Gatsby, noses apart as they finished 1-2 in the Lure; Grade 3 Oceanport winner Blacktype; Takeover Target, winner of the last year's Grade 2 Hall of Fame; Grade 1 winner Ring Weekend, sixth as the beaten favorite in the Grade 1 Fourstardave last time out; Reporting Star, and Take the Stand.

Source: NYRA Communications


comments powered by Disqus

Related Pages

Top Stories