By Duane Fonseca
Kiaran McLaughlin is back at where he started his career and returns to life as a jockey agent after announcing his retirement from racing.
The American conditioner formerly based in Dubai left his role as a jockey agent to rider Chris Antley in 1993 to become a trainer for Shadwell Stables and Godolphin Racing and now makes a career u-turn that will see him return to managing riding affairs for Luis Saez, the regular rider for recent $20million Saudi Cup winner Maximum Security.
McLaughlin is widely regarded as one of the world's top handlers having secured numerous Classic victories including the 2006 Belmont Stakes with Shadwell owned and bred Jazil during an enormously successful year when Invasor won both the Group 1 Dubai World Cup and the Grade 1 Breeders Cup Classic en route to his being adjudicated the 2006 Horse Of The Year. The horse was subsequently inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 2013.
McLaughlin, who also won the 2016 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile with Tamarkuz and the 2007 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf with Lahudood, takes over as Saez’s agent from Richard DePass. He steps into his new role on April 1.
And McLaughlin is relishing the prospect of returning to the role as he said: “It was a hard decision.
“I had one of the best jobs in the world working for such great people as the Maktoum family for 26 and a half years. It was tough to leave because they treat you so well.”
He added: “Any trainer would have loved to be in my position for all those years. I worked as an agent many years ago, and I really liked it.
“It's ironic that I left a jock's agent job in 1993 and now I'm going back to being a jockey's agent, but it's a different time and different situation and I'm excited about it. I'll miss that relationship with the owners, but hopefully we can win some big races for them.”
Vice President and General Manager of Shadwell, Rick Nichols, said in a statement: “On Behalf of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and all of us at Shadwell, we would like to thank Kiaran Mclaughlin and his staff for all of the years of hard work and dedication to the horses we have given them to train for Shadwell.
“Through their efforts, uncountable wonderful memories were created. We completely understand the move that he is making and we wish him well.”
Shadwell announced Todd Pletcher would take over from McLaughlin.
“As Kiaran starts a new chapter in his life, so does Shadwell Stable with Todd Pletcher graciously agreeing to train the horses that Kiaran had been allocated as well as future allocations that would have gone Kiaran's way. We are excited to have Todd join our team!
Good luck to all!,” Nichols was quoted as saying.
Godolphin were also quick to offer their support towards McLaughlin, with the President of the stables' US operations Jimmy Bell declaring: “Kiaran is as astute a horseman as there is out there.
“He's had a great relationship with the Maktoum family, and we had a great run with the likes of Frosted (multiple grade One winner and 2015 Belmont Stakes runner-up), Wedding Toast, Questing (the 2012 champion 3yo filly), and It's Tricky. We've had some great Saturday afternoons together.
“One of his best characteristics was his ability to place horses in the right spots. He always knew where a horse fit, and it will lead to so many opportunities for him and Luis, who is a super young jockey. They will be a force. With Luis' riding skills and Kiaran's relationships, they will be a great tandem. He's the most popular guy you'll find on the backstretch. Every time a golf cart at Saratoga drives by his barn, it will stop.
“I'm very happy for Kiaran. I am sure it will be an exciting new career for him that will revitalize him.”
McLaughlin served as mentor to Doug Watson at Red Stables before his vacating of the hot seat in 2004 made way for his American compatriot to take over. Watson has since thrived in the role winning six UAE Champion Trainers titles.