02/27/2016 8:49PM

Mohaymen sets stage for Florida Derby showdown by winning Fountain of Youth

Barbara D. Livingston
Mohaymen, ridden by Junior Alvarado, remains unbeaten in five starts by taking the Fountain of Youth by 2 1/4 lengths.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The challengers keep getting a bit better for Mohaymen, but the end result remains the same. He’s the best 3-year-old in Florida, perhaps in the country, but a compelling showdown looms five weeks hence.

 On Saturday at Gulfstream Park, Mohaymen knocked Zulu and Awesome Banner from the ranks of the unbeaten when they met in the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes. And now, in his final start before the Kentucky Derby on May 7, he’ll put his unbeaten record on the line against another undefeated colt, Nyquist, last year’s champion 2-year-old male, in the Florida Derby here on April 2.

 The allure for Nyquist, who is based in California, is both the timing – five weeks out from the Kentucky Derby – and a $1 million bonus, as he was purchased out of a sale by race sponsor Fasig-Tipton. The allure for Mohaymen is also the timing, but he’s got the home-field advantage. Regardless, Saturday’s Fountain of Youth set the stage for a rare match-up in the final Derby prep between two unbeaten colts who are based on opposite coasts.

 “I hope they change their mind,” Kiaran McLaughlin, the trainer of Mohaymen, said in the winner’s circle on Saturday. “Nyquist is a very talented horse. But this is home for us. No matter where we’d go, there’d be plenty of good horses we’d have to challenge.”

 Mohaymen continues to raise his already prolific game. In the Fountain of Youth, he had to avoid a rank longshot who tried to cause havoc on the first turn, made a middle move to secure position down the backstretch, and then disposed of Zulu through the lane while scoring by 2 1/4 lengths. He completed 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:42.84.

 Mohaymen earned a first prize of $245,520, and picked up 50 points toward a berth in the Kentucky Derby, giving him a total of 70 following previous 10-point wins in the Holy Bull and Remsen.

 Zulu, in only his third start, first in a stakes, and first around two turns, ran well to be second, four lengths in front of Fellowship.

“I was proud of his effort,” said Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Zulu. “He was second-best today and hopefully something we can improve on and build on.”

 Awesome Speed wound up fourth, and was followed, in order, by Awesome Banner and Golden Ray.

 Mohaymen, by Tapit, is now 5 for 5, with four stakes wins, three around two turns.

 “He’s special. He does things different. He’s not even blowing,” McLaughlin said.

 McLaughlin admitted the prospect of remaining unbeaten is “nerve-wracking,” but that is overlaid with his belief that Mohaymen is a bona fide, top-class colt.

 “He’s a very talented horse and he keeps winning. That’s all we can do,” McLaughlin said. “He’s a special colt, very smart. He’s great mentally. He doesn’t get all hot and bothered.”

 That poise came in handy during the race. Mohaymen ($2.80), starting from the outside post in the field of six, was carried four paths wide around the first turn but never lost his focus nor became overanxious when avoiding 131-1 longshot Golden Ray, who crashed into Awesome Speed shortly after the start and tried to lug out around the first turn.

 “I wanted to stay away from that horse, but I didn’t want to lose too much ground,” said jockey Junior Alvarado, who has been aboard Mohaymen for all his races.

 Alvarado said that around the five-furlong pole, Mohaymen began creeping forward on his own.

“I didn’t want to go against him,” Alvarado said. “I didn’t want to fight him.”

Mohaymen rocketed past Awesome Speed, who midway through the race was struggling to keep up while racing wide. Mohaymen then ranged up outside both Zulu and Awesome Banner heading into the far turn. Awesome Banner was the first to drop away, and Zulu could not keep pace.

 “Turning for home I just made sure he switched leads, then reminded him to finish up for me, and then I left him alone coming to the finish,” Alvarado said.

 Mohaymen, by Tapit, was purchased for $2.2 million as a yearling by the Shadwell Stable of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch



chipunk71 More than 1 year ago
thought he ran a very mature race, did not look like a young 3 year old. His path to the Derby is solid, and he's undefeated, but who he's beat so far is not that impressive. Still, if McLaughlin says he has a special horse...As a fan, I'd love to see Junior and KM beat Baffert/Garcia. Not ready to call the KD winner, but my money's on Mohaymen for the Florida, can't wait till Saturday! If all entered show up it will be a great race.

Nakia Towery More than 1 year ago
N sorry guys Orb won the Derby from FL.
Nakia Towery More than 1 year ago
Nyquist is obviously a nice horse. Mohaymen is also a horse. Dont sleep on Zulu that was only his 3rd start. His first around 2 turns he has a serious chance to beat both of them. Im going to say this the horse we all better watch is Swipe.
hpt_nathan More than 1 year ago
Great write up! I tried to beat Mohaymen in this race and that turned out to be a mistake. I haven't analyzed Nquist's races yet as far as Beyer Figs, but Mohaymen looks very tough.
John Miller More than 1 year ago
This Grey or Roan Horse just overcomes every obstacle he encounters in 5 straight races. What impresses me the most is how he handles being trapped with dirt kicked in his face. Most young horses shy away when this happens. Mohaymen who is still a young maturing horse does not turn 3 years old until Derby week. I do not relish seeing Nyquist in the Florida Derby on April 2nd. Not because I don't think Mohaymen can not handle the 2 year old Champion. I would Love to see Nyquist go somewhere else, Arkansas, Fair Grounds etc. so they meet in the Big Dance on May 7th Undefeated. All Racing Fans would be grateful to see those 2 at each others throats in the Run For The Roses !!!!!!
Jack Armstead More than 1 year ago
John... look at it like this: Just key them both 1st & 2nd in all Tri's and Super's. Nyquist is no slouch either. He prepped 7 Furlongs in 1:20.77 and looked good doing it. He's the real "Class" of this race anyway; he won from the #13 hole in the BC Juvenile to remain undefeated... and still is. It just costs twice as much to play any multi-race exotics. If I were Nyquist's connections, I stay away from Florida. The Derby winners haven't come from FL since Barbaro... mostly CA or AK. It's a true fact. I know about the $1M bonus from Fasig-Tipton for Nyquist, but; it still isn't worth shipping to FL to mess up his legs when they turn Gulfstream Park's dirt track into I-10 on FL Derby Day. Think about Materiality's run last year. Even when the variant was extremely high in his last 2 preps... he still didn't fire. Where is he now? The Derby winners have come from CA horses for several years now. If I were Nyquist's people, I'd take the 4 weeks and the Santa Anita Derby money. There isn't anyone other than Mohaymen in FL, so; why do they want to run the Derby 5 weeks earlier against him on his home track? For the love of money... that's why. O'Neil is thinking with his wallet, not as a horseman. He's already won the Derby and Preakness and puked the Triple Crown once. He just needs the "Points" and second place may just be enough to get Nyquist to the Derby. Kiaran is the better horseman, has more horse, and "home track cooking." He should go to NY and take the Wood money... like they did last year. There is no American Pharaoh this year and Kiaran should head North. Four races in FL is too much for any good young horse, especially a May foal's knees.
Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
When Mohaymen gets resisted for the first time, we'll see how good he really is....
Bob Flumerfelt More than 1 year ago
Like to see them run in the Florida Derby ,it will give you a better idea who is the best horse at the time . Its pot luck in the Kentucky Derby with so many horses.
gallopingtom More than 1 year ago
Respectfully disagree. Clearly the last four Kentucky Derby were very formful. The best horse won the race.
littlelouis99 More than 1 year ago
Moyhamen, nice horse, makes for an exciting Florida derby, we'll see how good he is when he has Nyquist breathing down his neck, I'll have to take Nyquist to keep the west coast horses dominating the triple crown races over the weaker east coast runners, especially when you throw in the rider equation, sorry Junior but I'll take Mario when the $$'s on the line.
John Miller More than 1 year ago
Louis, Nyquist will be on the lead in the Florida Derby. Mohaymen will lay just off the pace and reel Nyquist in at the top of the Stretch. I hope Nyquist stays away . I want both horses going to the Derby Undefeated. Nyquist can only win out front, Mohaymen has proved he is a versatile game horse and somehow gets to the Wire on Time !!
Jack Armstead More than 1 year ago
John... Nyquist didn't win the Breeders Cup Juvenile from the front. He tracked the pace from the #13 hole and won. Nyquist is coming to win an extra $1 Million bonus from Fasig-Tipton. Read my prior reply to you.
Troy Whisenant More than 1 year ago
Introducing the winner of the 2016 kentucky derby. Mohaymen
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
A long way to go.90% of these types don't do it.Injuries,distance limitations(Tapit),and other nice horses improving leaps and bounds in the next 2 months.Then add the large field and Churchill crowd.My money and historysays something else pops up and wins the first Sat in May.
Troy Whisenant More than 1 year ago
By Nyquist