01/01/2009 12:00AM

McLaughlin barn adds two stars - temporarily


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin's already potent stable received a couple of very classy additions late last month, with the arrival of Breeders' Cup winner Albertus Maximus and Arkansas Derby winner Gayego.

Unfortunately for McLaughlin, neither is likely to stay with him very long.

Albertus Maximus was purchased privately by Shadwell Stable shortly after his 1 1/4-length victory in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. The son of Albert the Great has worked three times since joining McLaughlin's stable at Palm Meadows, including an easy half-mile in 49 seconds Wednesday.

"We're pointing him for the Donn Handicap" on Jan. 31, McLaughlin said.

After that, McLaughlin said, Albertus Maximus could go to Dubai for the Godolphin Mile or the Dubai World Cup.

Gayego also worked Wednesday at Palm Meadows, where he breezed three furlongs in 35.80. It was his first official workout since arriving in south Florida nearly two weeks earlier.

"As far as I know, he won't run down here but will be shipping to Dubai later this month," said McLaughlin. "I'm just looking after him and keeping him going until then."

McLaughlin will be in action in a pair of stakes over the opening weekend at Gulfstream. He'll run National Pride in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope on Saturday and return the following afternoon with the undefeated 3-year-old filly Elusive Heat in the Grade 3 Old Hat.

"National Pride is training well, and the big field might actually be to his advantage in the Hal's Hope," McLaughlin said. "He should be able to sit back and clock some horses up front and make a run. If he were to do well, we might consider also bringing him back in the Donn."

National Pride, 4, has won 4 of his 6 starts, including an overnight stakes at Aqueduct in his 3-year-old finale.

Elusive Heat turned in arguably the most dominant performance by a 2-year-old maiden in New York last year when posting a 5 1/2-length victory in her only start on Oct. 12, earning a 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

Wolfson looks to build on strong season

The 2008 season started out about as badly as possible for trainer Marty Wolfson. It ended up the best year of his career, with 62 victories from 204 starters and a gaudy success rate of 30 percent.

"I won a race with Shes All Eltish New Year's Day at Calder and then went 0 for 20 to start the Gulfstream meeting," Wolfson recalled. "It made me sick. And to think it turned out to be the best season I've ever had. Shows you what a funny business this can be."

Wolfson has a golden opportunity to start out the new year in high style, with contenders in all three stakes races to be decided here this weekend. Wolfson sends out You Luckie Mann in the Spectacular Bid and It's a Bird in the Hal's Hope on Saturday, and the undefeated Frolic's Dream in the Old Hat on Sunday.

"I was really happy to be able to finish the year up at 30 percent and very proud of the fact 21 of the wins, more than one-third, came in stakes races," Wolfson said. "We also finished the Calder meet this summer with a 48 percent win rate, and even I'm amazed at that. I never came close to that in one month, let alone for five straight."

Wolfson's biggest day of the year came on June 14 when he won four stakes on a card with Rockerfeller, Golden Spikes, Dixie Dreamer, and Mysterious Peintre.

Wolfson lamented that he may have to split his stable next summer as a result of the purse situation at Calder. The track canceled several stakes last year, including the final three of the Tropical meeting.

"I was really disgusted with Calder last year, especially the way they canceled the last three stakes like that at the end," he said.

"I'm not sure where we'll go, maybe Monmouth. That hasn't been decided yet."

Lopez, Cruz serving suspensions

Neither Paco Lopez nor Manoel Cruz, who captured the two riding titles at Calder in 2008, will be on hand when the Gulfstream meet opens Saturday.

Lopez, a leading candidate for an Eclipse Award as the nation's top apprentice in 2008, must serve the final seven days of suspensions he had on appeal last year with the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. He will return Jan. 14. Cruz will also serve out the remainder of days he had on appeal with the division and is not available to accept mounts at Gulfstream until Jan. 21.

Lopez, an easy winner of the 2008 Calder jockey championship, was barred by track officials from riding out the final six weeks of the meet.