TDN’s ‘Let’s Talk’ – a podcast series featuring TDN’s Christina Bossinakis and TVG online analyst Gabby Gaudet, offers candid discussions of personal and professional issues commonly encountered in the racing community car.
The latest edition features longtime coaching agent Kiaran McLaughlin, who represents one of the nation’s top racers, Luis Saez, Friday’s GI Kentucky Oaks winner aboard the Secret Oath, training. by McLaughlin’s former mentor D. Wayne Lukas.
Kiaran McLaughlin has been quite a witness and does just that in equestrian sport. From his early days as a hotshot and then as an assistant to a host of successful coaches, including Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, McLaughlin has completed a 30-year career. as a coach – with a glittering client list that includes the ruling Maktoum family of Dubai – to pick up the book by one of the nation’s top racers, Luis Saez, on 2020. In their first year as a team, Saez finished third in the 2021 season with over $26 million in earnings.
“Wayne taught me all I learned about horse training and riding,” McLaughlin said of his former owner and mentor. “He is amazing to be around every day. The feed show is great and then goes away on its own, I edited it a bit.. [Wayne] is a real pleasure and a wonderful person to be with. So is Sheikh Hamdan. Those are two very important people in my life.”
According to McLaughlin, the experience gained while serving under his son Lukas and first lieutenant Jeff Lukas, who was mortally wounded by then Classic winner Tabasco Cat in 1993, in addition to the camaraderie that developed with his colleagues in the Lukas camp, left an indelible mark. his career.
“We all took care of each other, or we tried,” he recalls. “And we also worked for Jeff Lukas. He is no longer with us. He was a huge influence on all of us and a great horse trainer. Work ethic is probably the most important thing. Wayne doesn’t ask you to do anything he’s not willing to do. Like picking [him] up at 2:15 a.m. before we flew to Churchill for the Derby. I had to do it once or twice. Wayne is a workaholic and we all worked together and tried to help each other.”
And while many consider McLaughlin’s life a life of glamor, it hasn’t always been a sea of glass for the 61-year-old, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998. Rare. when one can’t see the smile on his face and a kind word. For a peer, McLaughlin has had his ups and downs in the race.
“I’ve always been optimistic and I’d say I have MS, but it doesn’t have me,” he said. “I love what I do, and that’s why I don’t retire completely. I love going to the track every day and meeting all my friends and having fun. ”
Among the contributing factors to his absence from practice, McLaughlin faces another setback in 2020 when he is fined by the New York Department of Labor for “violating minimum wage requirements.”
“I felt like my guts were hurt and I was kicked in the stomach,” he admitted. “They fined me $300,000 and acted as if I was stealing wages from my helper who has been with me for 20 years. If I stole anything, they wouldn’t stay with me for so many years.”
Yet despite the bumps he’s encountered along the way, McLaughlin insists he’s getting nowhere anytime soon.
“It’s a passion and a way of life, and once it’s in your blood, you want to do it – that’s amazing,” he explains.
“I’ve got some good kids working for me, and I want them to be coaches, especially now that I’m an agent. I need trainers to train horses,” he added with a chuckle. “But it’s not easy, that’s for sure.”