OZONE PARK, N.Y. -- Fearful of being unable to ship horses out of Florida because of the recent outbreak of equine herpes virus in several parts of the state, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has sent probable Horse of the Year Invasor and Belmont Stakes winner Jazil back to New York.
Invasor and Jazil arrived at McLaughlin's barn at Belmont Park on Sunday and will train in New York for now, McLaughlin said Wednesday from his barn at the Palm Meadows training center in Florida. Of the nine reported cases of equine herpesvirus in Florida, none has come from horses stabled at Palm Meadows.
McLaughlin said he and Shadwell Farm racing manager Rick Nichols decided to send the horses back to New York after Nichols conferred with Sheikh Hamdan, who runs Shadwell Stable, which owns both Jazil and Invasor. Sheikh Hamdan has expressed an interest in running one or both horses in the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 31.
"Mainly the reason we did it is we didn't want to be restricted from going to Dubai," McLaughlin said. "We were concerned if something else happened in Florida that they might put restrictions on the whole state."
McLaughlin is the son-in-law of trainer John Hennig, who had to euthanize a horse based at Payson Park because of the equine herpesvirus. There have been seven cases reported in Wellington, Fla., which, like Palm Meadows, is located in Palm Beach County.
The winter has been mild in New York, with temperatures significantly above normal. Long-term forecasts call for temperatures to range in the upper 40's to low 50's through early next week.
McLaughlin noted that the regular exercise riders for Jazil and Invasor are based in New York - both work as valets in the jockey's room - so that is another bonus of being in New York. Simon Harris gets on Jazil and Barry Downs gets on Invasor
McLaughlin said he still hopes to run Invasor and/or Jazil in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream on Feb. 3.
Invasor, who capped an undefeated North American campaign with a victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4, is likely to have his first breeze since then on Sunday over Belmont's training track.
Jazil has not run since winning the Belmont Stakes on June 10. He suffered bruises to a hind cannonbone and didn't return to training until September. Since October, Jazil has worked eight times, including a five-furlong move in 1:03 at Palm Meadows on Dec. 21.
Attila's Storm targets Paumonok
Attila's Storm, who finished seventh in the Grade 1 Frank De Francis Memorial Dash last time out, worked three furlongs in 36.80 seconds Wednesday as he prepares to get an early start on his 5-year-old campaign.
Trainer Richard Schosberg said he is pointing Attila's Storm to the $65,000 Paumonok Handicap here Jan. 27.
Schosberg said Attila's Storm bled in the De Francis and the horse also came out of the race with bruised feet. After a few weeks off, Attila's Storm was getting aggressive in his morning training to the point where Schosberg needed to work him.
"He worked great," Schosberg said. "We were pointing for something in the area of Paumonok. We just wanted to give him a little bit of time to get over the [De Francis]. This puts us on a pretty good schedule."
Attila's Storm has not won a race since the 2005 Fall Highweight Handicap. He ran twice in Southern California last winter before emerging from a third-place finish in the Palos Verdes with a hind leg fracture. He returned to the races in October, running third in the Vosburgh, fifth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, and seventh in the De Francis.
"We threw a lot at him all at once," said Schosberg. "Unfortunately that's the way the timing was. Hopefully we can start in January, work our way to March, and so on, instead of going January to October. So far, so good."
Hushion hopes for turnaround
Trainer Mike Hushion is still scratching his head over Great Intentions's poor performance in the Grade 2 First Flight Handicap. He said he has no idea what to expect when she runs back in Monday's Interborough Handicap.
After winning the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap by four lengths on Oct. 8, Great Intentions faded to seventh after showing speed Grade 2 First Flight Handicap on Nov. 4. Hushion said he couldn't explain the poor performance.
"I'm just using this race as a test," Hushion said. "I didn't see the last race coming."
Hushion said he gave Great Intentions 30 days of light training, but breezed her three times in 11 days, including a half-mile move in 50.14 seconds on Wednesday.
Great Intentions was assigned 118 pounds for the Interborough, scheduled for six furlongs over the inner track. Magnolia Jackson is the 120-pound highweight and is expected to run. Magnolia Jackson beat Great Intentions in last February's Correction Handicap.
Others pointing to the Interborough include Smart and Fancy and True Kiss. Possible starters include Samsincharge and Swinging Maria.
Coa closes in on 300
Eibar Coa rode two winners on Wednesday's card and now has 297 on the New York Racing Association circuit this year. Coa is seeking to become just the fourth rider since 1940 to win 300 races in one year on this circuit. Angel Cordero and Mike Smith have both topped 300 wins twice, and Steve Cauthen won 433 races in 1977.