BreederShadwell Farm, LLC
It's hard to force a square peg into a round hole. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin found that out with Shadwell Stable's homebred Takaful earlier this year.
After a smashing eight-length win in his first start last October, McLaughlin tried to stretch the Bernardini colt out around two turns, but Takaful didn't perform well. After running eighth in the Fountain of Youth in March, Takaful was off the Triple Crown trail.
Away from the races until July, he returned in a six-furlong allowance race at Saratoga, winning easily by more than five lengths. He then set the pace in the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes, but just got nailed on the wire.
In his third race after his layoff, Takaful showed his grit in the six-furlong Vosburgh Stakes at the end of September, beating El Deal and other older veterans to earn a spot in the starting gate for the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint at Del Mar.
“He’s a special horse and I’m so happy to win a Grade 1 for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the owner, and Rick Nichols and all of Shadwell,” McLaughlin said after the Vosburgh. “They’ve been patient. We tried to go the Derby route and it didn’t work, and they let us just get him right.
“He's not the easiest horse to train, but [assistant trainer] Joe Lee, his exercise rider Eduardo Delgado, and the whole team have done a great job with him,” McLaughlin continued. “He was difficult for us down in Florida. He was tough on himself. He was too keen, got cuts in his mouth, had a few feet issues – this, that, and the other. No injuries, he was just hard on himself. Luckily, Shadwell just let us stop on him. We walked him for a few weeks then jogged for a few weeks, just to get his battery fully recharged and be able to train on, and it's gone very well.”
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