Animal Kingdom, Point of Entry set to clash in GP Turf
Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, Point of Entry developed into a turf monster this season, with consecutive Grade 1 victories in the Man o' War, Sword Dancer and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.
"He's new to me, because I never had a horse as good as him that wants to run long on the grass," said McGaughey, best known for such dirt stars as Easy Goer, Personal Ensign, Inside Information and Heavenly Prize.
"I never won the Man o'War, I never won the Sword Dancer, I never won the Turf Classic, so he opened up a lot of doors for me that's been fun to participate in."
A five-race winning streak was snapped in the Breeders' Cup Turf, when he lacked running room before launching a strong late bid to miss catching Little Mike by a half-length. The defeat likely cost Point of Entry the Eclipse Award for champion turf male and ended any speculation about a Horse of the Year title.
Data Link won an allowance race at Gulfstream early last season before going on to win the Grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland in April. The son of War Front has won two Grade 2 races this year, including the Monmouth Stakes in June and the Citation Handicap at Hollywood on November 23.
"He had a couple weeks off. He's about ready to start back training. We'll probably point him to the Canadian (Turf, a Grade 3 on February 23) down here," McGaughey said.
Boisterous had captured the Grade 3 Knickerbocker at Belmont and the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct, both for the second straight year, before finishing second in the Grade 3 River City at Churchill last time out.
McGaughey said he hasn't yet set a schedule for the son of Distorted Humor, but he doesn't expect any problems keeping his turf stars apart.
"I'm not worried about that. There are enough races around for all of them," he said.
Abaco, who captured her fourth straight race in a turf allowance for fillies and mares at Gulfstream on December 9, is likely to start next in the Grade 3 Suwannee River on February 9.
The four-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway, who had always shown McGaughey a lot of promise, didn't break her maiden until her ninth start on July 26 at Saratoga, but she hasn't lost since that day.
"A lot of times you'll see a horse keep knocking on the door and once they win, they keep winning. We always felt like she was OK."
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