01/06/2016 12:08PM

2015 Eclipse Awards: Mohaymen

Adam Coglianese

Just hours before he had to be at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pa., to watch Frosted run in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was about 100 miles away at Belmont Park, where his 2-year-old Mohaymen was about to make his career debut.

In an effort that made McLaughlin’s ensuing three-plus-hour drive tolerable, Mohaymen outtussled the pace-prompting Seymourdini to record a half-length victory in the six-furlong race. The day only got better when Frosted, the 2015 Belmont Stakes runner-up to American Pharoah, won the Pennsylvania Derby.

The fall only got better when Mohaymen followed his maiden win with Grade 2 victories at Aqueduct in the Nashua and Remsen. Mohaymen fueled dreams of another trip down the Triple Crown trail for McLaughlin while also earning himself a spot as a finalist for the Eclipse Award as North America’s top 2-year-old male. Mohaymen, by Tapit and out of the graded stakes-winning filly Justwhistledixie, is a half-brother to New Year’s Day, a finalist for the 2013 juvenile male Eclipse Award.

:: 2015 Eclipse Awards: Finalist profiles

At the September 2014 yearling sale at Keeneland, Mohaymen was purchased for $2.2 million by Rick Nichols on behalf of Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Stable. Mohaymen, who was bred in Kentucky by Clearsky Farms, was the co-sale-topper, along with a War Front colt named Air Vice Marshal who went 1 for 3 during the summer in Ireland for Aidan O’Brien.

Jockey Junior Alvarado told McLaughlin that Mohaymen was a bit green and waiting on horses in that debut win. Seven weeks later, just prior to the Nashua, Mohaymen reared up in the paddock and acted up near the gate. But when the doors opened, Mohaymen was totally professional and cruised to a 1 3/4-length victory over Flexibility in the one-mile race.

In the three weeks between the Nashua and Remsen, McLaughlin schooled Mohaymen at the gate several times and had Alvarado work Mohaymen behind horses once to take dirt. All of those lessons paid off as Mohaymen, sitting fourth early on, surged to the front in midstretch and won the Remsen, a 1 1/8 mile race, by 1 1/2 lengths over Flexibility.

As impressed as McLaughlin was with the victory, he was equally impressed with how the colt acted immediately afterward. “When you buy horses, breed horses, you don’t get to see all the mechanics of them with their breathing and how they’re doing and how he moves and why it happens,” McLaughlin said. “Invasor was like that, Henny Hughes was like that; very few horses are like that, but this horse, when he came into the winner’s circle, he stood there like, ‘What’s next?’ ”

Next for Mohaymen is a trip to south Florida to begin preparing for his 3-year-old season. He most likely will begin his quest to make the Kentucky Derby in the Grade 3, $350,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 30.