Instead, he got interested in horse racing because of a friend's father and the sport stayed in his blood. However, so did Kentucky basketball.
"I was a UK fan. I went to all the basketball games through the 1970's until I left (Lexington) in 1979. I was there. I went to a lot of basketball games, and football games. I went to most of them because I was a big fan of the Wildcats," McLaughlin said. "It is hard to follow them as much as I would like now. But I do still try and keep up. Once a Kentucky fan, always a Kentucky fan."
That passions carries over to the Kentucky Derby, the one race he desperately wants to win that he has not yet won.
"It would be the ultimate (to win the Derby). The World Cup was fabulous. To go back to Dubai and win this year (with Invasor) was great, but the Kentucky Derby is the Super Bowl of our industry," McLaughlin said. "It is a dream of every horse trainer, owner and anybody in the business to win it. It would mean an awful lot to me to win the Derby.
"I grew up 70 miles away from there. I went halfway around the world (to Dubai to live and work) and back to try and win it, so it would be nice to win it."
As nice as watching Kentucky win the 1978 national championship?
"It would be the ultimate in horse racing just like that is the ultimate in basketball," McLaughlin said. "For a Kentucky kid, that would be about as good as it gets."