By Karen M. Johnson
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was relieved to find that grade I winner Daaher, who finished a well-beaten third as the 2-5 favorite in the March 1 Stymie Handicap at Aqueduct, was not suffering from any ailments the morning after the race.
Immediately following the 1 1/8-mile Stymie, in which Daaher was beaten 6 3/4 lengths by winner Malibu Moonshine, McLaughlin said he was concerned that the 4-year-old lugged in during the stretch, and mentioned that the colt had knee surgery as a 2-year-old.
“He came out of the race great,” McLaughlin said March 2 from his Belmont Park barn. “I thought we would find something. What we found out is he is limited on distance. But it wasn’t a soundness issue. His legs are ice cold.”
Mike Luzzi, who rode Daaher in the Stymie and was aboard for his 2 1/2-length victory in the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct last November, told McLaughlin that the colt lugs in when he gets tired.
“Mike said he did that in the Cigar Mile,” McLaughlin said.
Although subject to change, it does not appear that the son of Awesome Again will make the trip to the Middle East for the March 29 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) or the Godolphin Mile (UAE-I), as his connections had hoped. Daaher is owned by Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Stable.
“That appears very doubtful as of now,” McLaughlin said. “But I haven’t talked to (Shadwell manager) Rick Nichols or Sheikh Hamdan, but will do so today, and if the boss wants to go to the Dubai Mile, we will.”
McLaughlin said if a trip to Dubai doesn’t materialize, Daaher would be pointed to the $300,000 Carter Handicap (gr.I) at Aqueduct April 5. The Carter is a seven-furlong race on Aqueduct’s main track.
Daaher’s loss in the ungraded Stymie was his second defeat in a row as the heavy favorite. He finished seventh in the Feb. 2 Donn Handicap (gr.I) at Gulfstream Park. Like the Stymie, the Donn was run at 1 1/8 miles. Daaher has won two races at distances greater than a mile: a 1 1/16-mile maiden race and a 1 1/8-mile allowance race.