02/28/2016 11:17AM

Watchmaker: Mohaymen's performance better than it first looked

Barbara D. Livingston
Mohaymen did what he needed to do in his quest to be at his peak on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.

Call it reading between the lines. Call it interpretation. Call it what you will, but it is something handicappers do a thousand times a day.

I note this because on the face of it, Mohaymen’s victory Saturday in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park wouldn’t knock your socks off. His Beyer Figure of 95, which may or may not be one you can hang your hat on (more about that later), wasn’t particularly special, nor was his win margin of 2 1/4 lengths. But after I read between the lines and interpreted in my own way what I saw Mohaymen do in the Fountain of Youth, I came away very, very impressed.

Unlike the undefeated Swale and Hutcheson winner Awesome Banner, who went into the Fountain of Youth having to prove he could be as dominant routing as he was sprinting, and the unbeaten Zulu, who went into this race having to prove he not only could route, but also handle the jump to stakes company, and a fast track, Mohaymen came into the Fountain of Youth having to prove nothing in the context of this particular assignment. Mohaymen came into Saturday having won all four of his starts, three of them stakes, two of them around two turns.

For that reason alone, for Mohaymen, the Fountain of Youth had to be nothing more than a means to an end. All the race had to do was move this terrific colt one incremental step forward to the April 2 Florida Derby, which in turn is meant to have Mohaymen reach his peak on Kentucky Derby Day. And it is my interpretation that this is exactly the way Mohaymen’s connections approached the Fountain of Youth.

Kiaran McLaughlin, who is as good as any trainer in the game (also my interpretation), gave Mohaymen two easy half-mile breezes following his decisive win in the Holy Bull in his 3-year-old bow late last month. Mike Vesce, DRF’s clocker at Mohaymen’s winter base at Palm Meadows, had the following to say in Saturday’s DRF Clocker Report about Mohaymen’s last two works:

In Mohaymen’s first workout after the Holy Bull, Vesce noted he “didn’t show much energy on the gallop-out.” For Mohaymen’s most recent work, Vesce noted he was “just okay,” and went on to say, “he trained much better going into the Holy Bull.”

What I read between the lines here is McLaughlin treated the Fountain of Youth more as a maintenance race instead of one Mohaymen absolutely had to win. And rightfully so. And when you look at it through that prism, it changes – or should change – the way you view what he did Saturday. Mohaymen was wide on the first turn, middle-moved to reach sharp contention simply because he can, and humbled as well a connected colt as Zulu, who drew an absolutely perfect trip, all while being far from ready to show what he can really do.

Yup, that impressed me.

As for Mohaymen’s 95 Beyer Figure, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it’s one the Beyer folks keep a close eye on for potential future adjustment. As colleague Jay Privman noted, after six straight turf races, the Fountain of Youth was the first main track race in 3 hours and 44 minutes. It had also been 4 hours and 41 minutes since the only other two-turn main track race on the 13-race card. It’s not certain, but on a dry, sunny day, it is quite possible that the relative speed of the Gulfstream main track could have changed in the long interim between it being used.

Other quick Saturday thoughts:

There were three straight “Wow!” stakes performances earlier in the Gulfstream card, each for different reasons.

Some people might have been let down by the fact that X Y Jet only won the Gulfstream Park Sprint by a driving 1 1/4 lengths, but I was blown away by his effort. I thought it was amazing he prevailed after bobbling at the start, and then setting blistering fractions of 21.84 and 43.92 seconds, under pressure! Horses can be most impressive winners and not romp by 10, as X Y Jet showed.

Cathryn Sophia crushed her opposition again in the Davona Dale to remain undefeated and untested. But it was the way she rated so kindly off slow early fractions that I think was the most important aspect of her performance because it offers a strong reason to believe she will be just as effective when she finally stretches out to a route.

Catch a Glimpse made her first start since her victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf a winning one in the Herecomesthebride Stakes. The turn of foot Catch a Glimpse showed in upper stretch to put her field away was something else. It was, dare we say, almost Tepin-like.



Mike Reynolds More than 1 year ago
All the analysis comes with idea that Moyhamen is cranked up. I look at Kieran's prior trips to the Derby and believe the horse will on top of his game in Kentucky.
David Benning More than 1 year ago
last time I checked he's never won a Derby - don't misunderstand, I know he's a top 5 world trainer, but he has yet to unlock the Derby sequence in spite of having some well-bred representatives. The fact this one is a grey sort of downgrades his chances, historically-speaking. It's just my opinion, but I don't see this colt hiding anything - what you see is what you get. He's a hard trier. Fires every time. But I believe he needs to improve significantly from here to be more than a contender in a field where there will be 5-6 "contenders", at least.
David Benning More than 1 year ago
Here's what I saw. Or didn't see. Or would have preferred to see. A colt who can race within himself and finish when asked. Moy looked like he ran hard virtually all the way around. I didn't see him taking breathers. I was not visually impressed, and further - even though Moy had the more difficult trip - I think I would side with Zulu in a rematch. I see more room for improvement, although he did not visually please from my perspective, either.
Larry Rudolph More than 1 year ago
When you have to spend an entire article speculating on why a mediocre beyer number was acceptable real questions about his ability enter my mind This race was a below par stakes without any legitimate challenge and not any significant horses. The only other horse that belonged in the race was Zulu and only because he is from Pletcher. Since Nyquist has not yet shown he can run a distance at a good beyer number the Florida Derby may also be below par and not a significant derby prep. Subjectivity and speculation usually leads to bad handicapping. Concentrate on what you see and do not make excuses to justify what you would like to believe
brad More than 1 year ago
watchmaker has always been a terrible handicapper, he's good at other aspects of racing, handicapping ain't one of them, I love it when he or beyer tout horses that I don't like, ha! ha! ha! [Andrew is also terrible at handicapping]
pacl111 More than 1 year ago
There's always lots of bashing of supposedly mediocre efforts and 'slow' beyers. Those same bashers disappear into the ether when those horses come back to perform well. He won the race, and they were not interested in running 3 or 4 lengths faster , so as to appease fig junkies.
Larry Rudolph More than 1 year ago
Name a horse than ran three consecutive same buyers and then came back to run a big figure. You could name them on one hand
Kevin Chinnia More than 1 year ago
He was clearly a "short horse" conditioning wise and still won with ease. Made 2 moves in the race (off 2 4 furlong works...)! Anyone who knows about horse racing understands that is the sign of a star. And as I said before, he wasn't fully "cranked up". This horse is a true "star in the making".
brad More than 1 year ago
if he was short, then fine, if not, he won't get 10 furlongs, time will tell, it's not unreasonable to expect the horse to at least hold form, not regress, there's a chance he could be this years version of Dortmund, fine horse, but not classic distance horse, we'll see how it shakes out,
Jonathan More than 1 year ago
I didn't like his action in the stretch though. He doesn't look like a horse who will be at his best at 10 furlongs.
Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
Mohaymen is the real deal....and so is Nyquist. I can't wait for the Florida Derby. I like Nyquist.
Jim Pitura More than 1 year ago
He was wrapped up 150 yrds out, not sure what he beat.
Marc Estrich More than 1 year ago
Unlike Mohaymen, a very stern effort for X Y Jet in what was ostensibly a $100K prep for a race worth $2 million. I do not see how he could have had a much harder race.
David Craighead More than 1 year ago
Mike Watchmaker of the DRF staff and Handicapper, not only was he impressed but So was I after watching his performance and indeed I was hardly thinking bout the Beyer figure because at this time it's about maintaining form and health for the longer distances to come on the way to the Kentucky Derby and beyond and that's all that's needed don't have to over extend himself, none at All - Progress Champion to the next step smartly !
Charles Oakley More than 1 year ago
Paid workout?
Jack Armstead More than 1 year ago
Charles... pretty much, there wasn't anything in that race that was a real threat (except the #3 horse). He was 3-5 or 1-5 for a reason. Paid workout? Yes sir.