06/24/2007 11:00PM

McLaughlin to Invasor: Thanks for the memories

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Ross Woodson/Horsephotos
Invasor (outside) sustained a career-ending injury, fracturing a sesamoid while working Saturday at Belmont.

ELMONT, N.Y. - The optimistic nature of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin allows him to appreciate what he had with Invasor rather than fret about what he may have missed out on.

Invasor, the defending Horse of the Year, was retired over the weekend after suffering a fracture to the sesamoid bone of his right hind ankle in a workout Saturday at Belmont Park. Invasor was working toward a start in this Saturday's Grade 1 Suburban Handicap, a race he won by 4 1/4 lengths last year.

"I'm always one to look at the glass as half full,'' McLaughlin said Sunday morning. "I have to be thankful and feel privileged for being the trainer of record of Invasor. He meant a great deal to my life and my family's life.

"It's very difficult and sad, but on the other hand he is going to be a stallion and live a happy life,'' McLaughlin continued. "Better for it to happen in a five-eighths breeze and not Saturday afternoon hooked up with Corinthian or somebody down the lane. He's the best horse I'll ever train I'm sure. It is a tough situation, but I tend to look at the bright side of things.''

Invasor brought many bright moments to McLaughlin's career. McLaughlin, 46, took over the training of the horse in early 2006, and Invasor won 6 of 7 starts, including the Breeders' Cup Classic last November and the $6 million Dubai World Cup in March. Overall, Invasor won 11 of 12 starts and earned $7,804,070.

Invasor, an Argentine-bred son of Candy Stripes, had won his first five career starts in Uruguay, including the three Group 1 races that comprise the Uruguayan Triple Crown. In North America, he won the Pimlico Special, Whitney, and Donn Handicap in addition to the Suburban and BC Classic.

To McLaughlin, though, his most cherished memory will be of Invasor's 1 3/4-length victory in the Dubai World Cup. McLaughlin had spent several years training in Dubai and knew how much that victory meant to Invasor's owner, Sheikh Hamdan, the brother of Shiekh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai.

"I thought the Whitney was a great race, for him to battle down the lane [with Sun King], and the Breeders' Cup stamped him as a great horse,'' McLaughlin said. "But the biggest win for me and my staff and my family was definitely the World Cup because of my relationship with Sheikh Hamdan and Dubai. Those memories are stamped with us forever.''

Invasor was probably looking at having three more races before being retired. Following the Suburban, he most likely would have been pointed to the Woodward at Saratoga on Sept.o1 and then the Breeders' Cup Classic at Monmouth Park on Oct.o27. Victories in those three races would have made Invasor North America's leading money-earner, as well as secure a second straight Horse of the Year crown.

McLaughlin said Invasor appeared to have come out of Saturday's work in good order. But after Invasor cooled out and walked the shed row, a problem was found when McLaughlin's stable help went to wash the horse's feet. McLaughlin noticed that Invasor took a couple of funny steps, and the right hind ankle began filling up.

McLaughlin said that X-rays of Invasor's ankle were being reviewed by Dr. Rolf Embertson at the Rood and Riddle Equine Clinic in Lexington, Ky., to determine if surgery would be needed. As of Sunday, surgery had not been mentioned.

McLaughln said Invasor would remain at Belmont Park for at least a week before most likely being vanned to Shadwell Farm in Lexington.

"He is very comfortable and standing square in the stall on a little medication,'' McLaughlin said. "He is comfortable and happy, and we're making sure he doesn't get colicky and there is not any stress at all.''

While McLaughlin will have to say goodbye to Invasor, he may have a horse to replace him in some of the major handicap races this summer and fall. Flashy Bull, who finished 14th in the 2006 Kentucky Derby, has reeled off four consecutive victories this year, including the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs last out.

Flashy Bull is being pointed to the Whitney on July 29 at Saratoga.

"The way he's going, the sky's the limit,'' McLaughlin said.

Jazil sent home for checkup

McLaughlin said that Jazil, last year's Belmont Stakes winner, was shipped on Sunday by van to Shadwell Farm to be examined. McLaughlin said he can't find anything specifically wrong with the 4-year-old, and he hopes to get him back soon.

"I haven't been really happy with him,'' McLaughlin said. "He's okay on the X-rays. There are a couple of little issues I want them to look at.''

Jazil has gone 0 for 3 since his Belmont Stakes victory a year ago. He was sidelined most of the remainder of 2006 with bruising in his right hind cannon bone. Since returning to the races, he finished second in two second-level dirt allowance races and, most recently, finished last in the Elkhorn Stakes in his turf debut.

On June 8, Jazil worked four furlongs in 48.63 seconds in company with Invasor.