10/11/2005 11:00PM

BC Juvenile: McLaughlin impressed by 'Henny'


The task of getting Henny Hughes ready to try and turn the tables on First Samurai in the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile now falls to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Sheikh Rajid bin Mohammed al-Maktoum, who purchased Henny Hughes for $4.3 million prior to his win in the Saratoga Special, on Monday transferred the colt from trainer Patrick Biancone to McLaughlin. The horse arrived in McLaughlin's Belmont Park barn Tuesday morning after having vanned back to Biancone's Turfway Park barn from Belmont on Sunday.

Sheikh Rajid is the son of Sheikh Mohammed, who races under several banners in North America, including Darley Stable and Godolphin. Henny Hughes races under the Darley banner.

According to Jim Bell, who heads Darley's North American operations, Sheikh Rajid was upset with Biancone's instructions to jockey Gary Stevens to try and make the lead in the Champagne at all costs. Henny Hughes wound up chasing Too Much Bling through a half-mile in 43.67 seconds, and despite a determined effort, he could not hold off First Samurai, who won the Champagne by two lengths.

"The owner was dissatisfied with the instructions that the jockey received and has decided that the colt should be moved," Bell said.

Henny Hughes, who also finished second to First Samurai in the Hopeful, will also have a new rider for the Juvenile. It is expected that Edgar Prado will replace Stevens in the irons.

McLaughlin, who has been part of the Darley/Godolphin team for a decade, said the plan is to point Henny Hughes to the BC Juvenile. McLaughlin said he was impressed with Henny Hughes's effort in the Champagne.

"He ran great considering the first half-mile," McLaughlin said Wednesday morning. "I've never seen anything quite like that. Strategywise it was what Patrick wanted. I felt it was a very, very good race."

McLaughlin realizes that Henny Hughes will have to slow down a bit early if he is to have any chance of getting the 1 1/16 miles of the Juvenile.

"Early on it looked like seven-eighths to a mile would hit him right between the eyes," McLaughlin said. "But this is American racing, and speed being so valuable and so important, he has a lot of speed and the others just get tired chasing him. He's a damn nice horse whatever the distance. I hope we can do as well with him as Patrick did."

Henny Hughes won 3 of 5 starts for Biancone, including the Tremont and the Saratoga Special.

The arrival of Henny Hughes in his barn could not have come at a better time for McLaughlin. After coming within a nose of upsetting the Kentucky Derby with Closing Argument, things have gone awry for McLaughlin the second half of the year. Closing Argument never made it back to the races after finishing ninth in the Preakness and has been retired. Mustanfar, who began the year with an impressive allowance win, lost three straight stakes and is out for the year. Egg Head, whom McLaughlin purchased privately in the spring, died a month after finishing second to Lost in the Fog in the Riva Ridge.

"It's a big boost for our team," McLaughlin said of getting Henny Hughes.

McLaughlin said Henny Hughes shipped in well. "He won't require a lot of work between now and the Breeders' Cup to be at his best," McLaughlin said.

Biancone, who trains several horses for Darley's main competitor, Michael Tabor and John Mangier, said he knew he would eventually lose Henny Hughes.

"I think Kiaran is a lucky man - he has now in training one of the two best 2-year-olds in the country," Biancone said. "Good luck to them. I was delighted to work with them."

Though he won't have Henny Hughes, Biancone still may have a starter in the Juvenile in Stream Cat, the Kentucky Cup Juvenile winner who finished third in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity.

Dawn of War, the Lane's End winner trained by Dale Romans, will be pointed to the Juvenile, but Catcominatcha, the Lane's End runner-up, will not, according to trainer Eddie Kenneally.

Others expected to be pre-entered on Monday are Brother Derek, Jealous Profit, Private Vow, Sorcerer's Stone, Stevie Wonderboy, and Superfly. Flanders Fields is still possible, trainer Dallas Stewart said. Trainer Aidan O'Brien has his pair of top juveniles, George Washington and Horatio Nelson, still eligible for this weekend's Dewhurst Stakes in Newmarket. It is likely that only one would run there, with both still possible for the Juvenile.

Juvenile Contenders
2-year-old colts & geldings, 1 1/16 miles. Purse: $1.5 million.

1First SamuraiF. Brothers9-5
Was his most professional yet staying undefeated in the Champagne
2Henny HughesK. McLaughlin5-1
Did turn in a stronger effort in Champagne, but lost again to top one
3Sorcerer's StoneP. Byrne8-1
Trainer who brought you Favorite Trick has another serious 2-year-old
4Private VowS. Asmussen6-1
Crushed an iffy field in the Futurity; only loss was to Sorcerer's Stone
5Stevie WonderboyD. O'Neill6-1
Strange that the Dmr Futurity winner isn't having a traditional final prep
6George WashingtonA. O'Brien10-1
Won 4 straight; trainer won this at Belmont in 2001 with Johannesburg
7Horatio NelsonA. O'Brien12-1
Stayed undefeated in Paris; already a favorite for 2006 Epsom Derby
8Brother DerekD. Hendricks15-1
Led all the way in the Norfolk, but the field, final time, was not great
9A.P. WarriorE. Harty15-1
Was a hard-trying second in the Norfolk, but how good was that race?
10Dawn of WarD. Romans20-1
He may be improved, but the field he upset at Kee was very limited
The top 10 contenders for each of the eight Breeders' Cup races are ranked by Mike Watchmaker, who set the odds and wrote the comments. Actual Breeders' Cup fields will have up to 14 starters.