Mubtaahij to join McLaughlin stateside
In the immediate aftermath of Mubtaahij’s runner-up effort in last Saturday’s Dubai World Cup (G1), trainer Mike de Kock indicated that another American campaign was likely in the offing.
Confirmation of that plan didn’t take long, but there was a twist in Thursday’s announcement: Mubtaahij will be transferred to Kiaran McLaughlin for his US adventure.
“I was asked to take Mubtaahij to the US,” de Kock said on his website, “but as it is I am stretched between the Southern and Northern Hemispheres and I don’t want to put my assistants under too much pressure as US racing and training is highly scrutinized by the media. It would be unfair to subject them to that pressure.
“Mubtaahijj will be in the care of Kiaran McLaughlin, one of the top trainers in the US and also successful in Dubai this year in a number of races and previously with World Cup winner Invasor.
“Mubtaahij will return to me in Dubai for the 2017 Carnival.”
This is the most logical plan for a classy dirt horse who shouldn’t have to be shelved at the end of the Dubai season. As de Kock says in the video below, Mubtaahij is still reaching his peak at this point – typical for the progeny of Dubawi. He’ll have plenty of opportunities over the summer and fall to polish his resume ahead of a 2017 World Cup tilt. Of course, his soon-to-be stablemate Frosted will be in all of the usual spots, so their rivalry figures to continue.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum’s colorbearer is eligible to fare better in this second stateside swing too. Last spring, Mubtaahij was set a tough task to compete in the Kentucky Derby (G1) off a taxing Dubai Carnival, culminating in a career high in the UAE Derby (G2). For that reason, he’s better than his eighth behind American Pharoah at Churchill Downs implies. Having a bit more time to settle in off another mini-break ahead of the Belmont (G1), Mubtaahij improved to fourth.
Now Mubtaahij will arrive in the US in a more advantageous position: another year older, and just getting fully cranked from his extended holiday during the second half of 2015. We’ll see a stronger, fresher model for 2016.
De Kock also revealed that Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa’s Argentinian Group 1 star Vale Dori will likewise pitch camp in the US, but her itinerary is different from Mubtaahij. Runner-up to Polar River in the UAE Oaks and fourth in last Saturday’s UAE Derby, Vale Dori will head to Bob Baffert in Southern California, and unlike Mubtaahij, this season of racing will be her last.
“Vale Dori will go to Bob Baffert, who is a Hall of Fame trainer known for his recent exploits with American Pharoah and many other great names of US racing. She won’t be coming back, however. She is set to go to stud in the US with leading stallion Tapit having been earmarked as her first covering.
“Both Mubtaahij and Vale Dori have big races in them, but I am not able to comment on the exact feature contests their new trainers will be looking at.”
Here's de Kock talking about Mubtaahij to Andrew Bon following the World Cup:
Mubtaahij photo courtesy NYRA/Coglianese Photography/Susie Raisher.