Kiaran McLaughlin Joins TDN Writers’ Room Podcast

It’s been a memorable few months for trainer-turned-jockey-agent Kiaran McLaughlin. He’s been nominated to the Hall of Fame for the first time and, as the agent for Luis Saez, has his client lined up with many of the top horses in the sport, including top candidates for the GI Kentucky Derby in Tapit Trice (Tapit) and Instant Coffee (Bolt d’Oro). With plenty to talk about, McLaughlin joined this week’s TDN Writers’ Room podcast presented by Keeneland. McLaughlin was this week’s Green Group Guest of the Week.

McLaughlin was asked his opinion of Tapit Trice’s win in the GII Tampa Bay Derby, which has not necessarily drawn rave reviews.

“I want to hope that he gets out of the gate a little better next time,” he said. “He was slow to break and was last, but he stayed out of trouble. I never thought he was going to win until the sixteenth pole. But he’s got a beautiful stride and a great mind for a Tapit. Luis likes him a lot.”

A Derby win would be Saez’s first. He crossed the finish line in front in 2019 aboard Maximum Security (New Year’s Day), but was disqualified for interference. Has that experience made Saez even hungrier to win a Derby?

“That was a tough one,” said McLaughlin, who was not Saez’s agent at the time. “He handled it great. He doesn’t bring it up. He does not want to look back on it. He’s always looking to the next Saturday and the Saturday after that. But everybody in the industry wants to win the Kentucky Derby. And for him, I’m sure that he wants to win it even more since he lost it in a disqualification.”

In order to ride Tapit Trice, McLaughlin had to take off the Wayne Lukas-trained GI Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath (Arrogate), who won the GII Azeri S. at Oaklawn in her 4-year-old debut. McLaughlin said the decision was all about sticking with a top horse for the Kentucky Derby. Tyler Gaffalione rode Secret Oath.

“We also had to take off Frank’s Rockette (Into Mischief), who won the (GIII) Hurricane Bertie at Gulfstream,” McLaughlin said. “So we lost two very nice fillies. But at Derby time, you’re always trying to get to the Kentucky Derby. Wayne was hard on me when I first called him and told him that we were not going to be out there on her. He said, ‘You’re riding the second best one for Todd (Pletcher). What are you thinking?’ I said, ‘You’re probably right.’ He got after me a little bit thinking I was making the wrong decision. I was happy that he won and we won.”

Elsewhere on the podcast, which is also sponsored by Coolmore, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, Woodford Thoroughbreds, The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, XBTV, 1/st Racing, WinStar Farm, Lane’s End and West Point Thoroughbreds, Randy Moss, Zoe Cadman and Bill Finley took a look back at the win in the Tampa Bay Derby by Tapit Trice and the victory by Secret Oath in the Azeri, which the group deemed the most impressive performance of the week. The ever versatile Moss and Cadman also covered what has been a memorable Cheltenham Festival in the U.K. and raved about the wins by Honeysuckle (GB) (Sulamani {Ire}) and Constitution Hill (GB) (Blue Bresil {Fr}). In other news, the group covered the story of the alarming dip in handle that has been on-going since October and tried to figure out what is going on. A possible answer may be the level of play from the Computer Robotic Wagering players, who, by some estimates, now account for 33% of the total handle in the U.S. The trials and tribulations of former owner Ron Paolucci also made the podcast. Paolucci faces up to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of tax fraud and tax evasion.

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