Birthdate: January 6, 1951
Birthplace: Lexington, Ky.
Residence(s): Old Westbury, N.Y. and North Miami Beach, Fla.
Family: Wife, Alison; sons Claude IV and John Reeve.
Claude R. “Shug” McGaughey III made the difficult climb from young racing fan to Hall of Fame trainer. His parents introduced him to the sport at Keeneland Race Course and he says he was hooked by the atmosphere and the competition. McGaughey dropped out of the University of Mississippi in his junior year to keep his job as a groom with trainer David Carr. He later became an assistant to trainer David Whiteley and opened his own stable in 1979. Six years later, after developing Vanlandingham into a champion, he was named the trainer of the powerful Phipps family stable. His longtime assistant is childhood friend Buzz Tenney.
McGaughey was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2004.
During his 27 years at the head of the Phipps stable, he has developed eight champions, including unbeaten Hall of Famer Personal Ensign, and became one of the premier trainers in Breeders’ Cup history. Also at the top of the impressive list of horses McGaughey has trained are two more Hall of Famer runners, Easy Goer and Inside Information. On October 16, 1993 at Belmont Park he had a remarkable afternoon, winning six races on Breeders’ Cup preview day, with three of his five stakes wins coming in Grade 1 races.
In 2013, McGaughey returned to Churchill Down for the Kentucky Derby for the first time since 2002 (Saarland) with Orb. The 3-year-old Malibu Moon colt - a descendant of a family cultivated by the Janneys that includes champion Ruffian - swept from far off the pace to deliver McGaughey his first Kentucky Derby win. Orb followed his big win with a fourth place effort in the Preakness Stakes before moving on to the final Triple Crown race, the Belmont Stakes where he finished third.
The Kentucky Derby had always been a career aspiration for McGaughey. Mission accomplished.