Edited NTWAB Release — The National Turf Writers And Broadcasters will present lifelong horseman Kiaran McLaughlin, a former leading trainer who has quietly battled multiple sclerosis for more than two decades, with the Bill Mooney Award for displaying courage in the face of tremendous adversity.
Born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, McLaughlin was introduced to racing through longtime friend Greg Burchell. He worked for Burchell’s father, John, and other trainers before landing a job with Hall of Fame conditioner D. Wayne Lukas in the mid-1980s. McLaughlin left Lukas’ operation in 1992 to become a jockey’s agent, working with the late Chris Antley for about a year until taking a job as private trainer for the Maktoum family in Dubai.
McLaughlin later split time between Dubai and the United States and his long association with Shadwell Farm, Godolphin Racing, Darley and other Maktoum operations produced dozens of major stakes victories. He won 41 Grade 1 stakes and trained eight millionaires from 1995 into 2020, including Hall of Famer Invasor and $3.8-million earner Frosted. He retired from training in early 2020.
“I’m incredibly honored to receive this award,” said McLaughlin, who currently works as a jockey’s agent for Luis Saez.
McLaughlin joins four prior Mooney winners – the award’s namesake who died after a long battle with cancer in 2017, retired jockey Joy Scott, retired jockey and owner Rene Douglas and horsewoman Martine Bellocq.
“It’s remarkable the way he’s handled the adversity of MS all these years; you wouldn’t even know it,” said McLaughlin’s longtime friend, colleague and former Lukas protege Todd Pletcher. “He’s met it head on, never relinquished his pursuit of excellence, whether it was training and now as an agent for Luis.
“I’m sure it’s a lot more difficult than he makes it look. The way he’s attacked it and never let him slow him down is admirable. I’m sure there are days that it’s not easy but you’d never know it. He always has a smile on his face and is happy to be there. Overall, he’s a terrific person, with a great family. And he’s been a good friend, a good husband, a good parent to his kids. All the things you would want, and he’s a good role model for everyone.”
McLaughlin will be honored along with the NTWAB’s other five award winners at the organization’s 62nd annual Awards Dinner at Malone’s Prime Events in Lexington, Wednesday, Nov. 2.
“Kiaran was always a pleasure to deal with whether interviewing him as a trainer, a jockey agent or just talking about his days working with Wayne Lukas,” said Daily Racing Form’s David Grening, winner of the NTWAB’s Walter Haight Award for career excellence in Turf writing in 2011. “As dedicated as he was as a horseman, he still had time to be a great family man.”
Other honorees at the NTWAB Annual Awards Dinner will be Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale (Mr. Fitz Award); Eclipse Award-winning photographer Barbara Livingston (Joe Palmer Award); Chris Lincoln (Jim McKay Award); and Mike Welsch and Tom Pedulla (Walter Haight Award), along with other writing award winners announced that evening. The NTWAB Awards Dinner traditionally is held during Breeders’ Cup Week and is the organization’s only fundraiser. A portion of the proceeds from the event