US trainer Todd Pletcher excited about his new recruits from Sheikh Hamdan

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After the retirement of long-time USA-based Shadwell trainer Kiaran McLaughlin last April, seven-time American champion trainer Todd Pletcher has seen a number of promising horses move to his yard.

The 52-year-old native of Dallas, Texas, and 11-time Breeders’ Cup winner, is delighted with the horses he is receiving from Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and his Shadwell operation.

“It’s a tremendous-looking group of horses and a real tribute to the programme,” Pletcher said. “They’re not only well-bred, but very good-looking individuals. The ones that we got in from Kiaran were in excellent condition. We’re starting to get a few in from South Carolina and those are looking well. We’re excited about the opportunity and are very enthused about training for Sheikh Hamdan and Shadwell.”

A quartet of colts whose names all happen start with the letter ‘A’ highlight Pletcher’s new recruits. These include recent maiden-placed Ajhar and Ashiham, as well as unraced new arrival Ashaab and Grade 2-placed Ajaaweed, who is scheduled to return to action in the autumn.

Ajhar, an $800,000 Keeneland September 2018 purchase and son of Tapit and Grade 2 winner Jojo Warrior, was an unlucky third, hitting the gate at the stalls on May 2 over 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream Park.

Ashiham also an $800,000 son of Tapit (and a grandson of Horse of the Year Azeri), was an eye-catching second on April 25 over seven furlongs.

Ashaab is by Tapit and out of stakes-winning Danzig mare Wasseema. Ajaaweed is by Curlin and was second in the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct in December before returning with a respectable third in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs last February.

“Ajaaweed is back at Shadwell (Farm in Kentucky) getting a little break after a minor setback, so hopefully we see him in the fall of the year,” Pletcher reported.

“With Ajhar” Pletcher continued, “I’m honestly a little disappointed that we didn’t get the job done, as he’s trained really well, but he missed the break a touch and our strategy from the one-hole in a mile and sixteenth race was to try to be prominent. He ran a respectable third, but there’s more there.”

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