Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s plans changed for two of his graded stakes-winning sprinters, Abraaj and Lucky Island, when the former suffered a slight setback that will force him to miss the $400,000 Vosburgh (gr. I) at Belmont Park Sept. 27.
McLaughlin will still have a very competent starter for the six-furlong Vosburgh in Lucky Island, who would have competed in the $250,000 Ancient Title (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park Sept. 27 had Abraaj run at Belmont Park.
“Abraaj had an issue, not a big issue, but a small issue,” McLaughlin said Sept. 22. “We are going to be cautious with him. It might be a bruised foot. We are still pointing to the Breeders’ Cup with him, but he won’t have a prep; just works.”
Abraaj, a 5-year-old son of Carson City, won the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (gr. II) at Saratoga July 26 in his last start. The horse is owned by Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Stable, as is Lucky Island.
In winning the Alfred G. Vanderbilt, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, Abraaj earned an automatic starting berth in the $2-million Sentient Flight Group Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita Oct. 25.
Lucky Island, a 4-year-old son of Lucky Roberto, is undefeated in two starts at Belmont. In May, he won the Bold Ruler (gr. III), and returned to win the Tom Fool (gr. II) in July. In his last start, the colt finished sixth as the favorite in the Forego (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 30.
“He was very unlucky in the Forego,” McLaughlin said. “After breaking slow and getting sandwiched between horses, it eliminated any good chance he had. It was just an unfortunate day for him. He’s doing great; he’s such a neat horse and a professional.”
Lucky Island, an Argentine-bred who is not Breeders’ Cup-nominated, was earmarked originally for the Ancient Title in hopes of giving his connections an indication if they should supplement him to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The Sprint will be run on Santa Anita’s newly installed Pro-Ride synthetic surface, and Lucky Island has not raced on an artificial surface.
“I spoke with Rick Nichols (Shadwell’s vice president and general manager), who spoke with Sheikh Hamdan, and we all felt that the Vosburgh is a very important and prestigious race to win, more so than the Ancient Title,” McLaughlin said. “We can supplement accordingly to the Breeders’ Cup, if he ran well.”
Alan Garcia will ride Lucky Island in the Vosburgh.