On a sun-splashed Friday morning at the Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, graded stakes winner Sticksstatelydude turned in a four-furlong work that his connections hope is a step toward a spot in the gate for the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 28.
The 3-year-old son of First Dude, who is owned in a partnership that includes brothers, Alvin Haynes Jr. and Mitch Haynes, does not currently have a slot in the gate for the 1 1/8-mile inaugural running of the Pegasus. The colt's trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, said he has been approached by connections with confirmed berths inquiring about leasing the horse for the Pegasus, but so far no deals have been struck.
After Sticksstatelydude covered a half-mile in :49.75 with exercise rider Roger Horgan aboard, McLaughlin said if the Pegasus turns out not to be an option, he is looking at the $400,000 Poseidon, also at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt and part of the undercard, as an alternative.
“He is pointing toward a race on Jan. 28,” McLaughlin said. “There is a $400,000 race on the undercard, or the Pegasus, if someone needs a horse. We could be talked into a lease for that day. He will continue to work weekly and we'll hope for the best. At least there is the option of the other race if we don't get into the Pegasus.”
McLaughlin said the story behind Sticksstatelydude, who won the Discovery Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct in most recent start on Nov. 12, dates back to when he was a kid, growing up in Kentucky. The horse has also been trained by McLaughlin's childhood friend, Greg Burchell, who saddled him to finish second in the Oklahoma Derby (G3) at Remington Park in September, his start before the Discovery. Burchell also holds an ownership interest in Sticksstatelydude.
“The horse is named for one of the best owners ever in the game, Alvin Haynes, who I trained horses for, and was a lifelong friend with,” McLaughlin explained. “He passed away last year. Alvin's nickname was 'Stick' because he was a really tall man. When he died, his two sons took over, Alvin Jr. and Mitch, and there are also several partners in the horse, including Greg Burchell, who trains the horse back and forth with me, and is the reason I'm in the business. Greg was my best buddy at 10 years old. Greg's dad trained horses and that is how I got horses into my system. Greg is here in Florida, too, so we talk daily and he looks after the horse every day.
“Greg and I grew up with Alvin's sons, Alvin Jr., who we call Scotty, and his brother Mitch,” McLaughlin continued. “Their father was a very good man and it's sad that he is gone, but the horse is doing well for the whole family. It's a great story if he keeps going. The horse ran huge in the Discovery last time. He's just 3 turning 4, and hopefully he just continues to keep improving. He's a nice horse.”
A winner of three races from eight starts, Sticksstatelydude has earnings of $326,400. His 1 1/4-length victory in the Discovery marked his first stakes win. The Discovery's runner-up, Neolithic, was a nine-length winner of an allowance race at Gulfstream Park on Wednesday. His connections, Starlight Racing, have a slot in the Pegasus.
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