Mohaymen is old Arabic for “dominator.”
The name fits.
The gray 3-year-old on Saturday positioned himself as the top Kentucky Derby hopeful on the East Coast with a dominating performance in the $350,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Mohaymen crushed a field of five, winning by 3 1/2 lengths.
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“He took my breath away,” said the colt’s trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, who isn’t one to impress easily given the number of stars he has developed over the years. “Today was pretty special.”
Said Shadwell Stable general manager Rick Nichols: “Just chills up and down the back.”
It was that electric.
Mohaymen, who is unbeaten in four races, took command at the top of the stretch in the 1 1/16-mile stakes and pulled away convincingly, with little urging from jockey Junior Alvarado.
“I could have gone around again easily with him,” Alvarado said. “I still had plenty of horse. You can feel the acceleration he has, and it’s not me asking him.”
Mohaymen is no rags-to-riches story. He was the sales-topper at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sales, going for $2.2 million.
Though he is not a robust horse, he has stamina and kick.
“He’s a real special colt, and he does everything right,” McLaughlin said.
As a 2-year-old, Mohaymen lived up to his sticker price with three wins in New York. The Holy Bull was his first race of 2016, and he gave every indication it could be a year to remember.
In a field that was largely devoid of early speed, he settled within close striking range of early front-runners Greenpointcrusader and Perfect Saint before blowing past and winning in a romp.
“I just waited and waited, and then it got to a point where he didn’t come inside and the horse in front was backing up, so I said, ‘I’ve got the best horse. It’s time to start making my own move,’ ” Alvarado said.
Next up for Mohaymen: the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream on Feb. 27, followed by the Florida Derby on April 2.
This year’s Kentucky Derby comes one month later on May 7.
McLaughlin said he has no intention of skipping races leading up to the first leg of the Triple Crown, which has become a recent pattern with trainers of top 3-year-olds.
“We just think more experience is fine, especially the way he’s doing it,” McLaughlin said. “I don’t think he needs to skip races. I think he did it pretty much in hand today. This looked like a pretty easy race.”
If there’s a local challenger to put Mohaymen to the test, it could be Awesome Banner, who won the 7-furlong Swale Stakes for 3-year-olds earlier on Saturday’s Gulfstream card.
Awesome Banner also remained unbeaten, running his record to 3-for-3, with a 5 1/2-length victory in the Swale. He, too, is being tentatively pointed for the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth — and a showdown with Mohaymen.
“A mile and a sixteenth will be no problem,” said Awesome Banner’s trainer, Stanley Gold.
Said Fred Brei, whose Jacks of Better Farm owns Awesome Banner: “I don’t think there’s any bottom to this horse. And he has no idea how good he is — none. And we’re not going to tell him, because then he’ll quit.”