Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey was in the news Monday when word came that fellow trainer Neil Howard would disband his string and work as a Kentucky-based assistant.
McGaughey told Horse Racing Nation Tuesday that Howard will be a good fit for his operation.
"I sure hope it is for him, too," McGaughey said. "I'm excited about the opportunity to work with Neil, and he'll have a presence in Kentucky the first of April 'til the first of December at Churchill Downs. Whether we go to Gulfstream or New Orleans this winter, we haven't made up our mind yet.
"I think it'd be a good fit. We've been friends for a long time. I think he probably understands my program, and having somebody like him is kind of a big rock off my back to where I can depend on what he's doing and what he tells me – not that any of the others are not."
McGaughey spoke to HRN from Belmont Park and provided an update on the top horses in his stable for this Barn Tour.
Greatest Honour. The 3-year-old Tapit colt was sidelined for "bone remodeling" after a third-place finish in the Florida Derby (G1). "Greatest Honour's getting ready to go back into training," McGaughey said, adding that he needed about 30 to 40 more days off than anticipated. He expects the Holy Bull (G3) and Fountain of Youth (G2) winner to have his first race "sometime this winter."
Code of Honor. The 5-year-old won the Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park last month in his first start since January. "Code of Honor's doing very well. He's going run in the Woodward here at Belmont on Oct. 2."
First Captain. Unraced as a 2-year-old, this Curlin colt started his 3-year-old campaign with three straight wins before finishing third in the listed Curlin Stakes in July, his last start. "First Captain is going to get a break," McGaughey said. "He just had a little bit of a situation that he was sound and going right, but I was afraid about doing anything with him that might hurt him. He's going to get 60 days off or so."
Vigilantes Way. After winning the Eatontown Stakes (G3) in June, the 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro finished seventh in the Diana (G1) before coming back with a win in the listed Miss Liberty at Monmouth Park. She will start Saturday in the listed Violet Stakes at Monmouth Park, McGaughey said.
Star Command. The 4-year-old filly was sired by Orb, who won the Kentucky Derby for McGaughey in 2013. She did not break her maiden until June, but won her next race, a Belmont Park allowance, before finishing sixth in the listed De La Rose at Saratoga. Last out, she won a Kentucky Downs allowance race by a neck. "Not sure what we'll do with her yet. She's doing fine, just letting her get over her race, and I'll try to figure it out as we go along. But I'm trying to find a little stakes where she might fit in good, because with her pedigree I'd like to see her get a little black type."
Frosty Brew. The Frosted filly won on debut at Laurel Park this month. McGaughey said she is "nominated to Frizette up here, and I will just kind of wait and see how it comes up and take it from there."
Dripping Gold. A winner on debut at Saratoga in August, the Lemon Drop Kid colt was fifth in Sunday's Summer Stakes (G1) at Woodbine. "We were a little bit disappointed with his race in Canada. He's back here now, and I'll just have to figure it out from there. But I'll take him back to the track tomorrow or the next day and sort of see from there."
Limited Liability. A winner in his first start, in June at Saratoga, the son of Kitten's Joy finished third in the With Anticipation (G3) on Sept. 1. McGaughey said he will run next in the Pilgrim (G2) on Oct. 3 at Belmont Park.