McLaughlin looks ahead to Triple Crowns series on dirt and turf

NYRA Press Office
April 13, 2019 11:43am
A Thread of Blue_Dania Beach 2019_615x400
Photo: Lauren King
Leonard Green's A Thread of Blue is expected to make his next start in the Grade 2, $400,000 American Turf on Kentucky Derby day at Churchill Downs, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said.

The Hard Spun colt will be competing in the 1 1/16-mile route, marking his first start since winning his graded stakes debut when he posted a three-quarters of a length score in the Palm Beach (G3) on March 2 at Gulfstream Park. The American Turf appearance could also set up a potential future start in the new Turf Triple Series, held at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.

"He's pointing towards the American Turf and he's working at Palm Meadows. From there, we're hoping to go to the New York series," McLaughlin said.

The Turf Trinity, for 3-year-olds, kicks off on July 6 with the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational, contested at 1 1/4-miles on the Belmont turf.

A Thread of Blue is 3-1-1 in five career turf starts, with wins in his last three starts and four of his last five sandwiched around a third-place finish in the Awad on November 4 at Aqueduct.

"He's won three in a row on the turf and he's been training well, he seems to love the turf, even though he broke his maiden on the dirt," McLaughlin said. "He's a really nice horse. This will be a step up. It'll be a tougher race. Hopefully, he sits tight and performs well there. He's run well [2-for-2 at 1 1/16 miles] so I don't think the distance will be a problem for him."

The Flaxman Holdings Kentucky-bred was purchased for $430,000 as a 2-year-old at the 2018 Ocala Breeders' Sale. 

Kentucky Derby-hopeful
 Haikal remains on schedule for the Run for the Roses following his third-place finish in the Wood Memorial (G2), McLaughlin said.

The Shadwell Stable homebred has amassed 70 Derby qualifying points, good for ninth-most as of Friday, off his Wood effort and his one-length victory over Mind Control in the Gotham (G3) at one mile on March 9 at the Big A.

Haikal, 3-1-1 in five career starts, including his maiden-breaking win at second asking on December 15 at Aqueduct, is not expected to have a busy worktab heading into the first Saturday in May, his conditioner said.

"He came out of the Wood great. We plan on working him most likely just one time," McLaughlin said.

Haikal would give McLaughlin his ninth career Derby starter. His best finish came with his first starter, as Closing Argument finished second, by a half-length, to Giacomo in 2005. Should Haikal run, it would give McLaughlin a Derby starter for the fourth time in five years, with Frosted fourth in 2015, Mohaymen fourth in 2016 and Enticed 14th last year among his recent entrants.

"It's an honor to be able to get in the race, so we're very excited, especially since the owners have been so good to us," McLaughlin said. "It's a team effort. Joe Lee, my assistant, and my staff have done a great job. It takes a team to get to this point. You hope to get there; you still have four weeks."


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