Kiaran McLaughlin has been training horses for the Maktoum family for 16 years, so when he was asked to “babysit” Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Gayego for a few weeks he had no problem at all. On Jan. 2, McLaughlin confirmed that Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Stables had recently purchased the 4-year-old son of Gilded Time and he will be pointed to the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) later this year.
Gayego worked for McLaughlin for the first time Dec. 31 at Palm Meadows Trainer Center in Florida, posting a three-furlong work in :35.80. The trainer confirmed that the dark bay colt will not run in the U.S. before his trip to Dubai, which could come later this month.
“It’s fine. I’m very proud to be part of the Sheikh’s racing operation,” McLaughlin said. “I’m happy to help out wherever I can. It’s not a burden at all. Gayego is a very nice horse; he went very well the other day.”
Gayego, who set a 6 1/2-furlong track record (1:13.07) at Santa Anita in the San Pedro Stakes last January and set another mark at Hollywood (1:13.37) at the same distance last out in optional claiming company Nov. 30, was purchased by Godolphin privately from A.C. Avila, who had acquired the colt from original owners Cubanacan Stables in December.
Gayego is 4-2-0 from nine lifetime starts with earnings of $763,020. Bred in Kentucky by Hargus Sexton and Sandra Sexton, he was runner-up to Georgie Boy in the San Felipe (gr. II) before taking the Arkansas Derby by three parts of a length. That win propelled Gayego to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), where he finished 17th.
McLaughlin is also training Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Albertus Maximus for Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Stable. Albertus Maximus will also go to Dubai for the World Cup (UAE-I), but will likely run in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Jan. 31 before he goes.