Team McLaughlin discusses Marking-Confrontation target switch

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March 23rd, 2016

Kiaran and Neal McLaughlin spoke to Joe Kristufek about Marking and Confrontation’s swapping targets. Marking has been rerouted to the Godolphin Mile (G2), while Confrontation was pitched into the Golden Shaheen (G1).

"Marking has had some gate issues and in a sprint against a high caliber speed horse like (X Y Jet) you can't give an inch," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin noted. "In a 1600-meter (metric mile) race, if he does miss a beat at the start, he can recover and get in position without the mistake being nearly as costly."

"We've always kind of had the Godolphin Mile in mind for Marking," assistant trainer Neal McLaughlin said. "He's by Bernardini, so we think he'll be really good at 1800 meters or even 2000 meters later in the year back in the States. He reminds us a lot of Key of Luck, who won the Dubai Duty Free here in 1996 by 20 lengths. They're both fast but can carry their speed.

"We would prefer an outside trip with Marking. With a one-turn mile, there's a long run down the backstretch. He has a high cruising speed so we'd like to be on the lead or close to it.  He doesn't love kickback. We'd like to run with a clean face."

Since Marking is drawn in post 2, he’ll have to break alertly, or else he will face plenty of kickback behind horses on the inside.

Neal commented on the rationale for shortening Confrontation up for the Golden Shaheen.

"If you look back, some of his best form is sprinting,” he said.

“We have Marking for the Mile. We could have run Confrontation there too but we want to give Sheikh Mohammed separate rooting interests on Dubai World Cup Night. He has the speed to stay close and a short burst that makes him dangerous in sprints, if you time it right. He's an interesting horse in good form and we think we have him in the optimum spot."

Kiaran observed, "We like Confrontation on the cutback, especially if other horses can keep X Y Jet honest. We know our horse will be running strongly at the end."

According to the notes, Marking again schooled in the starting gate at Sheikh Mohammed’s private Marmoom training complex.

"The gate continues to be a bit of an issue for him," Neal McLaughlin admitted. "With all of his inexperience, we have to treat him like a three-year-old. He's had a couple of bad experiences in and out of the gate, and we are trying to put them out of his mind. With more intelligent horses, that can actually be more difficult. They tend to have better memories. We've done all we can. We just hope he gets it right on the night.

"(Longtime NYRA starter) Bob Duncan did a great job working with him in the States. The machine is a little different here and there are no handlers in the gate. Marking keeps wanting to lean on the back doors, so a light tail on Saturday night will be part of the plan."

Regarding Dubai World Cup (G1) contender Frosted, Kiaran McLaughlin has already mapped out his second half of the season -- the Suburban (G1), Whitney (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) prior to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

McLaughlin debunks the theory of a “Dubai bounce” that wipes horses out after their Mideast venture.

"Some people believe that racing in Dubai can be difficult on horses, but from my experience that isn't the case at all," McLaughlin said.

"Invasor is a perfect example. The year before he won the Dubai World Cup, he finished fourth in the UAE Derby (G2), and less than two months later, he won the Pimlico Special (G1), then the Suburban, Whitney and Breeders' Cup Classic consecutively. Horses that have issues with the return to the States probably already had those same issues when they were in Dubai."

Marking photo courtesy of Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins.