Although his name doesn’t appear in the top 10 in the trainers’ standings, Kiaran McLaughlin’s Monmouth Park division is quietly having a sensational meet.

McLaughlin, currently the 17th leading trainer in North America, has sent out just 30 horses here to date. But 10 of them have posed for winner’s circle photos while two more placed and another took third. That’s a lofty win percentage of 33 1/3 at Monmouth, which is even better than his 24% success rate nationally.

“Kiaran is very good at sending the right horses to the right track and finding the right spot for them to run,” said Andrew St. Lawrence, who has overseen the McLaughlin barn at Monmouth for five seasons. “The other key is that he is very sharp at finding the jockey who fits each horse well. He uses many different jockeys and we’ve won races this year with Joe Bravo, Pablo Fragoso, Paco Lopez and Pedro Cotto, Jr. and others. Kiaran always makes us look good.

“Kiaran ships horses all over, but he’s very big on supporting Monmouth Park,” said St. Lawrence. “He likes to stable here.”

McLaughlin, whose major clients are Darley Stable and Godolphin Stable, is no stranger to these environs. In the 1980’s he was an assistant to trainer D. Wayne Lukas at Monmouth and every day had his hands on champions Lady’s Secret, Open Mind and others who helped put themselves and their trainer into the Hall of Fame.

“Here’s Kiaran leading Dynaformer into the winner’s circle,” St. Lawrence said while showing photos on his cell phone. “Here’s another of Kiaran with Open Mind when she broke her maiden (on August 15, 1988). He’s got a very long history with Monmouth Park. Our current success is the result of a very big team effort.”

One invaluable member of the crew is Sadler, the 10-year-old golden retriever St. Lawrence has had since she was a puppy. Sadler is a fixture in the shedrow and a friend to horses and humans.

“She’s a pretty chill dog,” he said. “She used to sit right outside the stall of Seventh Street, who won a couple of grade ones,” he said. “This spring in New York, she always sat in front of Alpha’s stall. At least she has good taste. If you see her in front of a stall, you might want to watch that horse.”

It would be wise to keep an eye on all of the McLaughlin horses when they show up in the Monmouth Park paddock.

“We’re happy with the meet we’re having here and our success. Kiaran knows the right horses to send here and the right ones to keep here,” said St. Lawrence as Sadler wagged her tail in approval. “Personally, I love Monmouth Park and love training and running here. The track is beautiful and going to the races in the afternoons is a terrific experience.”


After winning easily at second asking as a 2-year-old and then rattling off another pair of victories, including the $75,000 Sophomore Turf Stakes in his second start of 2012, it looked like Star Channel could become one of the shining stars on Todd Pletcher’s deep roster.

The bay colt was sired by English Channel, the Pletcher-trainee who captured the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Monmouth Park and was an Eclipse Award-winning male grass horse. Like father, like son? Not exactly so far.

After winning that stakes race at Tampa Bay Downs on April 12, Star Channel lost his rider in the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, showed no kick in the Grade 3 Hill Prince at Belmont Park on June 16, and then faded to fourth in the $100,000 Duluth Stakes after setting the pace almost all the way at Saratoga last time out on July 22.

On Sunday, he’ll contest the $60,000 Restoration Stakes for 3-year-olds going 1 1/6 miles on the Monmouth turf course as he tries for his second stakes win.

“He hasn’t been running up to par and he needs to run back to form,” said Anthony Sciametta, Pletcher’s assistant at Monmouth.

Star Channel, who is owned by GDS Racing Stable, has three wins from eight career starts and has earned $116,570 for the highest total of the seven sophomores in the field. He will be ridden in the Restoration by Joe Bravo, who has already won six stakes races, including the $500,000 Grade 1 United Nations, for Pletcher here to date.