Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was extremely disappointed by Cairo Prince's fourth-place performance in Saturday's Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, but he couldn't have been more satisfied with the beaten favorite's condition at Palm Meadows Sunday morning.
"He's very happy and sharp out of the race," McLaughlin said. "But it's just been a tough, tough day."
Cairo Prince, who was sent to post as the 6-5 favorite in Gulfstream's signature race on the strength of his dominating victory in the Holy Bull on January 25, sat off the early pace under jockey Luis Saez and was never able to truly get into the race won by Constitution following a thrilling stretch duel with Wildcat Red.
"I haven't been able to say what went wrong. It's very disappointing," McLaughlin said. "We're disappointed, almost shocked at the results. But it is horse racing and it is what it is. He's fine out of the race and we'd like to go on if we can, but the points situation isn't favorable."
The Florida Derby had 170 points up for grabs in the system used in qualifying for the first leg of the Triple Crown with 100 for the win, 40 for the place, 20 for the show and 10 for fourth.
Constitution, runner-up Wildcat Red and third-place finisher General a Rod are headed for Louisville on the first Saturday in May, but Cairo Prince's 24 total points may not be enough to earn a spot in the starting gate. With the Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial, Arkansas Derby and the Blue Grass schedule still yet to be run, Cairo Prince, currently 16th in the race for 20 spots, is in serious jeopardy of being shut out.
"The way the points are now, there are four races out there for eight horses to get first and second (and enough points to qualify)," McLaughlin said. "So we're hoping that they're already in, but that's not likely."
McLaughlin said he'd make no definite plans until talking with the owners of Cairo Prince, including majority owner Godolphin Racing.
"He's going to stay here right now, but that could change," McLaughlin said. "Plan A didn't work and we don't really have a Plan B. I'm going to have to talk to everybody, all the owners, and make a Plan B."