“It was a big step up going from a `two other than’ into a race like that,” McLaughlin said. “It was a really big test. But he got an A-plus on it and passed with flying colors. He proved he belonged.”
A four-year-old son of Lucky Roberto, Lucky Island was bred in Argentina and made his debut there in June, 2007, winning by nine lengths. He then joined McLaughlin, who entered him at Calder Race Course in South Florida, with an eye on shipping him to Dubai.
Nothing went right for Lucky Island, who stumbled at the start, was forced to steady and lost all chance as he bet no one. Still, despite his troubles, he was beaten eight lengths for it all. Later, McLaughlin found another reason for the poor showing.
“Because we were looking to take him to Dubai, we raced without Lasix,” said McLaughlin of the diuretic that is used to control bleeding in horses. “He bled a little bit that day. Since then, he has gone 3-for-3 with Lasix and he is a nice horse that seems to be getting better.”
The Bold Ruler is all the evidence McLaughlin needs.
Unhurried by jockey Alan Garcia, Lucky Island got into a bit of a jam on the turn of the six-furlong Bold Ruler, but got himself out and wore down front-running Man of Danger for a 2 ¼-length victory. It was, by far, his best effort to date.
“I am very lucky to have two top sprinters in Lucky Island and Abraaj, and both are owned by Shadwell Stable,” McLaughlin said. “There are some nice Grade 1 and Grade 2 races coming up, and I can keep them apart for a while.”
McLaughlin’s plan for Lucky Island figures to include Saratoga’s Grade 1, $250,000 Forego Handicap at seven furlongs on Saturday, August 30 and the Grade 1, $400,000 Vosburgh here during the Fall Championship Meet on Jockey Club Gold Cup Day, Saturday, September 27.
- Abraaj would likely point for Saratoga’s Grade 2, $250,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at six furlongs on Saturday, July 26, where a victory would automatically qualify him for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on October 25.
“You don’t know what will happen and you don’t know if horses are going to like the track out in California,” McLaughlin said. “So, we’re going to focus on some important races in New York, and we would love to win races like the Vanderbilt, the Forego and the Vosburgh. We might even look ahead to a race like the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile ($300,000, Saturday, November 29, Aqueduct), but for now, we’re going to keep sprinting.
“Lucky Island looks like one who keeps getting better. He is a nice horse to train, and I imagine a nice horse to ride because he can do anything you need him to do.”
Alan Garcia has the mount on Lucky Island in the Tom Fool.
The Brothers Dutrow, Anthony and Richard Jr., will challenge Lucky Island with Premium Wine and Not for Money, respectively.
Premium Wine, who worked three furlongs in 37.73 at Aqueduct on Tuesday, threw a rare klunker in his last start, finishing eighth in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on May 26. But the 4-year-old Prime Timber colt is a consistent runner, who has only been worse than third twice in 12 starts.
Not for Money ran a huge number at the Tom Fool distance on May 23.
The Dutrows have a family history in the Tom Fool. Their father, the late Richard Dutrow, trained two Tom Fool winners: King’s Swan (1988) and Lite the Fuse (1995), while Richard Jr. trained 2006 Tom Fool winner Silver Train.
Trainer John Hertler will go with Karen and Mickey Taylor’s Council Member, while Gary Contessa and Pat Kelly will saddle Starforaday and Tasteyville, respectively.
The field for Friday’s 34th running of the Grade 2 Tom Fool Handicap:
PP. HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT.
1. Not for Money Richard Dutrow Jr. Edgar Prado 115
2. Lucky Island (ARG) Kiaran McLaughlin Alan Garcia 118
3. Starforaday Gary Contessa Eibar Coa 116
4. Council Member John Hertler Jorge Chavez 113
5. Tasteyville Patrick Kelly Mike Luzzi 117
6. Premium Wine Anthony Dutrow Jorge Velazquez 115