The Lure of It

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In celebration of Lure’s nomination to the Hall of Fame, I checked “The Best of The Special,” our five-year anniversary book of The Saratoga Special, and found Shug McGaughey’s take on the two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner. We conducted 32 individual conversations with the Hall of Fame trainer, just a trainer talking about a horse. Sitting in Shug’s tack room at Saratoga and listening to his memories would be near the top (probably right behind the golf cart rides with the Chief) of anything I’ve written.


Here’s Shug:

Lure was one of the most brilliant milers that I’ve ever seen. Extremely fast. He was a lot of fun to train, really, from day one. He was pretty quick. He won his first start and set a track record on the dirt (going 5 ½ furlongs in 56 1/5).

From the time we put him on the grass (in training) up here when he was a 3-year-old, you saw him get better and better and better. We ran him on it and he wasn’t where I wanted him to be then and he won way off. Some of those figure guys come running down to the winner’s circle going, ‘Do you know what he just did?’ I didn’t know what he had done. He had won, you know.

Then we ran him in the Kelso on soft turf and he was second, I thought that was a great race. Then when I took him to the Florida (for the Breeders’ Cup at Gulfstream Park), I’ve never seen a horse keep moving forward, keep moving forward like he did.

The day he ran, I got him in the paddock and kinda looked back and said, ‘Good Lord, look at this.’ You know, we look at them in the stall or they have a blanket on. He had the inside post and I told Mike (Smith) to take advantage of this. It was really exciting to see him run that day.