Derby target still in McLaughlin's sights

J A McGrath

Godolphin trainer Kiaran McLaughlin remains confident he has two Derby contenders for next year in his stable. The burning question is: which colt for which Derby?

McLaughlin was pleased with the second registered by Avery Island in Saturday's G2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct, particularly as the two-year-old was giving weight away to all his rivals.

And the trainer still has high hopes for talented Enticed, waiting in the wings to confirm his Classic credentials again on the racetrack.

The date February 3 is already highlighted in McLaughlin's calendar, for this will be the day on which it is decided which path each colt will take.

"We could have one for Churchill Downs, and one for Meydan," he pointed out.

The prospect of having serious contenders in the G1 Kentucky Derby and the G2 UAE Derby is very real.

"I feel Avery Island got a lot out of his race on Saturday," the trainer said. "He settled well. He sat and waited. The winner (Catholic Boy) was best on the day, but our horse did well.

"Both Avery Island and Enticed are pointing in the direction of a Derby. They'll tell us which one. They will naturally improve in coming weeks, but we don't want any negatives.

"We need them to remain sound and healthy," he added.

"The current plan is for Enticed to probably run in the Holy Bull (over a mile and one-sixteenth) at Gulfstream, and Avery Island to go for the Withers Stakes (over a mile and an eighth) at Aqueduct. Both races are on February 3," he said.

Meanwhile, McLaughlin is awaiting confirmation of plans for Indulgent following her win in the G3 Go For Wand Handicap at the weekend.

This Bernardini half-sister to Frosted is a very valuable graded stakes winner, and the question now is whether she stays in training or heads to the breeding barn.