10/20/2003 12:00AM

McLaughlin's move pays off


ELMONT, N.Y. - Every fall for the past 10 years, Kiaran McLaughlin has left New York for Dubai to train for the Maktoum family. In early September, McLaughlin announced he would not be returning to the Middle East, and instead would begin operating a public stable.

At the time of his decision, McLaughlin couldn't possibly have guessed how quickly his public stable would grow in quality.

McLaughlin won Sunday's Grade 1 E.P. Taylor at Woodbine with Volga, a horse he began training 11 days earlier for his longtime friend Joe Allen. Christophe Clement was Volga's previous trainer.

Earlier this month, McLaughlin won the Grade 3 Safely Kept Breeders' Cup at Pimlico with Randaroo, another Allen-owned runner that McLaughlin began training in September. Randaroo will be a strong contender in Saturday's $150,000 First Flight Handicap at Belmont Park.

Last week, Allen gave McLaughlin a graded stakes winner, Roar Emotion, to train. Roar Emotion, who was previously trained by Carlos Martin, won the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico in the spring. A 3-year-old filly, Roar Emotion was given the summer off after she had a splint pin-fired. She worked last Friday for the first time since the layoff.

"I have about eight or nine for Joe," said McLaughlin, who first met Allen when he worked as an assistant to D. Wayne Lukas. "We have a special relationship which you don't come across in most lifetimes, let alone in this business."

McLaughlin was generous in his praise for the jobs that Clement and Martin did with his newest acquisitions.

"Christophe did all the work with Volga; she ran on his training in Canada," McLaughlin said. "I know that one of the biggest thrills this year for Joe was winning the Black-Eyed Susan with Roar Emotion. It was hard for him to move her from Carlos, but Joe really wanted his horses in one shed, instead of talking to five trainers a day."

Allen also has a couple of horses with trainers Allen Jerkens and Neil Drysdale, and McLaughlin said he expects those horses will remain with them.

Volga, who is closing in on $1 million in earnings, will be pointed to the $150,000 Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct on Nov. 15. Roar Emotion probably won't make her return to the races until this winter in Florida. McLaughlin will split his stable between New York and Florida this winter. He plans on having about 30 horses in each division.

No plans set for Gander

By his standards, Gander was having a lean year before he won an allowance race on Sept. 14. That race set him up for a great run in last Saturday's $250,000 Empire Classic, where he fell a half-length short of catching the winner, Well Fancied.

Gander's connections were thrilled with his second-place finish in the Empire Classic, a race the 7-year-old gelding had won twice before.

For much of this year, Gander was bothered by a sore stifle, but going into the Empire Classic, his trainer, John Terranova, was confident the problem had been corrected.

"He still has the desire and the will to perform," said Tonja Terranova, John's wife and assistant. "He came out of the race great. I almost think he thought he won because he's acting so proud of himself. We are all very proud of him."

The Terranovas have no immediate plans for Gander. Last year, after winning the Empire Classic, Gander ran in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs and finished 10th.

"It's been a light year for him, so we will bring him back to the track to train and let him tell us," Tonja said. "Maybe we will run him once more before giving him his usual month off on the farm in Ocala."

Timo aiming for Mecke

Trainer Bill Badgett Jr. said that Timo, who won the Pilgrim by 2 1/4 lengths in his stakes debut on Sunday, will be pointed to the $100,000 Mecke at Calder on Nov. 29. The Mecke could serve as a stepping-stone to the Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby on Jan. 1.

"I thought he would run well because he was training like he would," Badgett said. "Everything fell in place with his works. A few horses were not handling [the yielding course], but he certainly did."