02/20/2013 1:13PM

Gulfstream Park: McLaughlin testing Elmutahid in Fountain of Youth

Barbara D. Livingston
Elmutahid is the first foal out of the Grade 1-winning mare Alwajeeha.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Two years ago, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth with Soldat, a War Front colt best known for his exploits on turf at 2.

On Saturday, McLaughlin is hoping lightning will strike in a similar manner with Elmutahid, a son of Street Cry who made all four of his 2-year-old starts on grass before switching to dirt to register an impressive maiden win over a sloppy track here at Gulfstream last month.

Like Elmutahid, Soldat also came into the Fountain of Youth off a big wet-track victory here earlier in the meet, although that’s about where the similarity between the two horses ends.

Soldat was already proven on dirt as a 2-year-old before switching to grass to win the Grade 3 With Anticipation and finish second later that season in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

Elmutahid never ran on dirt and was winless in four starts at 2 before earning his diploma in impressive fashion in his 3-year-old debut.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

A Shadwell homebred trained by McLaughlin, Elmutahid is the first foal out of the Grade 1-winning mare Alwajeeha, who made all nine of her starts on turf. She won three times, closing her brief but successful career with a victory in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Keeneland in 2008.

“Soldat had already shown us he liked the dirt in his maiden days, but we just figured Elmutahid, with his breeding, was all turf,” McLaughlin said. “In fact, I even scratched him twice this summer in races that came off the grass. But once he got down to Palm Meadows, he started working really well on the dirt, so I called Rick Nichols at Shadwell and told him it might be a crazy idea, but I’d like to try this horse on dirt. He said fine. He won, and that’s why we’re here Saturday.”

Jose Lezcano rode Elmutahid to his maiden win, but Joe Brave will have the mount in the Fountain of Youth.

“Obviously, it’s a big step up jumping from a maiden win to a Grade 2,” McLaughlin said, “but he’s come back and worked impressively a couple of times since his last start, and with the new points system for the Derby, it’s worth a try.

“He was a little tricky getting to the post before his last race. Jose had to get off and run him to the gate, but we’ve been schooling him with a pony in the morning and he seems to be doing fine. I doubt he’ll be on the lead Saturday, that spot might be occupied by Eddie Kenneally’s horse” – Majestic Hussar – “but he should be forwardly placed. I’ll just leave that up to Joe.”