03/29/2016 11:45AM

McLaughlin could use a pick-me-up from Mohaymen

Barbara D. Livingston
McLaughlin was disappointed with Frosted's performance in the Dubai World Cup. The 4-year-old likely will come back in either the Stephen Foster or Suburban early this summer.

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. -- The undefeated Mohaymen was a sight for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s bleary eyes after a weekend of both professional and personal disappointment.

“It picked my head right up,” McLaughlin said on a steamy Tuesday morning at the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida.

McLaughlin was back in Florida by late Sunday morning following a trip back from Dubai where he ran four horses on the richest card of racing in the world. Frosted could manage only a fifth-place finish in the $10 million Dubai World Cup. McLaughlin’s other runners at Meydan included Marking (fourth in the Godolphin Mile), Confrontation (sixth in the Golden Shaheen), and Lady Shipman (seventh in the Al Quoz).

Speaking of Frosted, McLaughlin said, “He ran farther than everybody. Just disappointed. He run a huge race in the prep, maybe a difference in competition was the main thing. He didn’t seem to have that finishing kick like he had.”

Personally, McLaughlin was saddened to learn of the death of Jeff Lukas, with whom McLaughlin worked in the mid-1980s. Lukas died on March 23 of an apparent heart attack at age 58.

McLaughlin was a barn foreman under trainer D. Wayne Lukas and worked closely with Jeff Lukas, Wayne’s son and assistant who ran the stable’s New York division while McLaughlin was based at Monmouth Park. McLaughlin also worked with Jeff Lukas two winters in California.

McLaughlin called Jeff Lukas “the backbone of the operation in the late-80s.” McLaughlin said. Jeff Lukas was big on pointing to a race and working backward from that point.

“With Wayne, if the horse was doing great, look for a spot, run him,” McLaughlin said. “In the mid-80s we’d run back in a week, 12 days, two weeks. Jeff was more like, ‘Let’s point to this race and stick with it.’ He was just a really good horseman and a good trainer.

“He wasn’t easy on people a lot of times, but as a mentor or a leader or a teacher sometimes you have to be that way -- discipline is good,” McLaughlin added. “He was tough, in a good way.”

McLaughlin believes Mohaymen will be tough in a good way in Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park where he will take on Nyquist, the undefeated champion 2-year-old of 2015. Mohaymen, a son of Tapit, is undefeated in five starts, including victories in the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth, both Grade 2 races at Gulfstream Park.

Nyquist went 5 for 5 at age 2, including a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Nyquist, a son of Uncle Mo trained by Doug O’Neill, kicked off his 3-year-old season with a victory in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 15. He was scheduled to arrive at Palm Beach International Airport at around 2:45 p.m. Tuesday before vanning an hour south to Gulfstream Park.

“When you have undefeated horses how much more is in the tank?” McLaughlin asked rhetorically. “Where and how do you find out? Well, we’re going to find out on Saturday how much is in the tank for both of them because they’re two damn nice horses.”

On Tuesday at Palm Meadows, Mohaymen stood in the gate before galloping. Mohaymen acted up near the gate before the Grade 2 Nashua -- the second start of his life -- at Aqueduct last Nov. 4, but has had no such incidents in his three subsequent starts.

“We’re ready,” McLaughlin said. “I wouldn’t trade places with anybody.”

* McLaughlin said that Frosted, Marking, Lady Shipman, and Watershed -- who did not run on World Cup night -- were due to return to the U.S. on Thursday. They will sped a few days in quarantine in Chicago before shipping to Belmont Park by Sunday or Monday. Confrontation was to remain in Dubai, McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said Frosted came out of the World Cup in good shape and he would look to run him in either the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs in June or the Suburban at Belmont Park in July.