Shadwell Stable's homebred Haikal, winner of the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct Racetrack on March 9 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.21 on Thursday morning on the main track at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
Haikal, who was a closing third in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets on April 6, finished 10th on the leaderboard for the Grade 1, $3 million Kentucky Derby, slated for Saturday, May 4, with 70 points.
The Daaher bay, who posted a bullet breeze in 47.59 on April 19 at Belmont, was in hand under exercise rider Luis Perlaya on Thursday morning while running outside of unraced 3-year-old stablemate Taamer. The pair traveled together from the top of the lane with Haikal taking control at the wire and galloping out well in front.
“I loved what I saw this morning. He kept going out and finished strong. It was an excellent work,” said McLaughlin. “He went a little fast last week, but it was probably the track. This week was really nice. The way he galloped out and the way he worked he looked really good. In hand. I really like this work better this week.”
Haikal will ship by van to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on Sunday afternoon and arrive early Monday morning, with his conditioner slated to arrive on Tuesday at the historic track in search of his first Kentucky Derby win with his ninth starter.
“It's great to get there. It's very hard to get there. It's very hard to get a horse that's eligible points wise and a horse that is doing very well at this time of the year,” said McLaughlin. “We're excited and it's a great owner that we've been with for 25 years so it's fabulous. He's a homebred so the whole farm in Lexington gets to enjoy it and a lot of them will be there. My whole team, my assistant Joe Lee and my staff, have done a great job with this horse all winter. It's great to get there and hopefully we'll be in good shape tomorrow [exiting the work].”
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