Mohaymen’s had ‘only two bad minutes’ in racing career
Edited from Churchill Downs press release
Monday marked Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful Mohaymen’s actual third birthday, but in the wake of his only career loss in the Florida Derby (G1), that turned out to be a lower-key remembrance than it might have been.
“Had we won the press would have been lined up to the next barn, so maybe it was a blessing of some sort. But we were very disappointed, because we thought he couldn’t lose,” McLaughlin said.
Mohaymen was favored at 4-5 in the Florida Derby, but finished 8 1/4 lengths behind Nyquist after racing wide over a “good” Gulfstream surface.
“It was the only two bad minutes he’s had since he came into the barn. June 23 he came in and he worked two weeks later. Since then he’s never missed a day; he’s never had a bad moment, except that day for two minutes,” McLaughlin said.
Trainers Tom Amoss and Dallas Stewart both believe that their GMB Racing runners, Mo Tom and Tom’s Ready respectively, will stay the Derby trip.
"The pundits will debate whether Uncle Mo's can get the mile-and-a-quarter, and that will not only apply to my horse, but it will apply to the post-time favorite, Nyquist, as well as Outwork,'' Amoss said. "I can't speak to the other two horses. I don't know them. But in training Mo Tom, I have no doubt a mile-and-quarter is something he can do, and farther. I'm very comfortable with the distance.”
Stewart emphasized Tom’s Ready’s maternal side.
"(With) the Broad Brush mare, he should get the distance,'' Stewart said. "Get some help on that end, I'm hoping. The mama's dad ... he could run nine miles. There's not weakness in his pedigree.''
Stewart recalled that in 1994, when he was an assistant to trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Concern, a son of Broad Brush, won the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs. Tabasco Cat, trained by Lukas, finished second.
"Jerry Bailey rode Concern,'' Stewart said. "Tabasco Cat was on the lead, looked like he couldn't lose. It was right here in the mud. He (Concern) ran him down. He came off the turn like a motorcycle.''
Whitmore met his new jockey for the first time when Victor Espinoza stopped by the barn and then watched the son of Pleasantly Perfect train. With Laura Moquett on board, Whitmore jogged a mile and galloped a mile.
“We all had a chance to tell Victor our thoughts on Whitmore,” co-owner Harry Rosenblum said. “He's a smart rider. He's won five of the last six Triple Crown races. We think we have a horse that just needs a good trip. Hopefully, he'll get that with Victor.”
Espinoza will be looking for his third straight Kentucky Derby victory and fourth overall when he climbs aboard Whitmore for the first time Saturday. He won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness S. (G1) with California Chrome in 2014 and then became the first rider to win the Triple Crown in 37 years last year when American Pharoah swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont S. (G1). Espinoza also won the Kentucky Derby in 2002 with War Emblem.
Trainer Dale Romans spoke of Brody’s Cause, who rebounded from a clunker in his Tampa Bay Derby (G2) comeback to win the Blue Grass (G1).
“It was a long four weeks between two races to make sure he was the horse we thought he was all along,” Romans said.
The Kentucky Derby will be his third start off the bench, by design.
“He had 15 points banked and he had enough of a foundation as a 2-year-old, so we wanted the third race in his form cycle to be the Derby,” Romans said. “Everything’s gone perfect, except for the fact that he didn’t run that well in the Tampa Bay Derby. But in the big picture, it might have helped him.”
Koji Maeda’s Lani continued his unique training regimen on the track at Churchill Downs combining walking, jogging and galloping for five circuits around the track with Eishu Maruuchi in the saddle.
Winner of the UAE Derby (G2) in his most recent start, Lani came on the track at the five-eighths gap and walked to the starting gate where he stood before resuming his morning activity.
“I was at the gate and I saw him go around at least four times,” said Keita Tanaka, agent for Maeda. “It is his temperament; if he wants to go, the rider lets him go.”
Tanaka said the atmosphere surrounding the Derby is totally different than in Japan.
“At home, there is no public entry to the barn area, just some media,” Tanaka said. “He is at a training center that is totally apart from the track.”
“The crowds don’t bother him,” Tanaka said. “He likes people.”
Majesto’s trainer, Gustavo Delgado, observed how his Derby bid is a welcome topic of discussion in an otherwise tough situation in the connections’ Venezuelan homeland.
“My country’s conditions are very bad now. The people only speak about the Kentucky Derby, they don’t speak of the bad conditions in Venezuela,” Delgado said. “They speak of the Kentucky Derby, the owners going to the Kentucky Derby, the trainer going to the Kentucky Derby and Jaramillo going to the Kentucky Derby. They don’t speak about the bad conditions.”
Owner Ken Ramsey is keeping a realistic view of turf/synthetic runner Oscar Nominated’s chances in his dirt debut in the Derby.
“I think if the track comes up sloppy that would put him in the top five or at least put him in the money,” Ramsey said.
The nearest “bubble” horse, No. 21 Fellowship, will be entered Wednesday with Jose Lezcano named to ride.
“We’re just training like he is going to run,” said Norm Casse, assistant to his father, Mark. “We’re not wishing any bad luck to anybody; we’re just ready to run if someone comes out.”
Mohaymen photo courtesy Rickelle Nelson/Horsephotos.com.