Friday, January 27, 2012

Gulfstream Park News & Notes January 27, 2012

McLaughlin Looking for Consortium to Step Forward in Holy Bull

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin wasn’t nearly as surprised as the bettors at Aqueduct last November when Consortium swept to victory by nearly five lengths at 13-1 in his debut.

“We expected him to run well. We felt like he was a really nice horse and he was training really well. Alan Garcia rode him great the first time, sat back fifth in the clear and came running to win by 5,” McLaughlin said. “He’s so well bred. Bernardini is such a great sire. It’s nice to have quite a few Bernardinis in the barn.”

Unfortunately, trainer Todd Pletcher also has a very talented son of Bernardini in his barn, and Algorithms proved a length better in Consortium’s second lifetime start at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 16. Sent to post as the 4-5 favorite, Consortium pressed the pacesetter while stalked to the outside by Algorithms, who went on to edge away to victory. Consortium was nearly five lengths clear of the third-place finisher in the 6 ½ -furlong entry-level allowance.

Consortium and Algorithms will meet again in Sunday’s $400,000 Holy Bull (G3), which drew a field of six, including the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) victor and Eclipse Award winner Hansen. Consortium, bred in Kentucky by Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley and campaigned under the colors of Godolphin Racing, will race with Lasix for the first time in the Holy Bull.

“He’s not a bad bleeder, but he did show signs of bleeding mixing in with the mucus,” said McLaughlin, whose colt was scoped following the recent allowance and subsequent workout.

McLaughlin is hoping that the medication to prevent pulmonary bleeding will help his colt to rebound from his recent loss to Algorithms.

“I think we might have been second best on the day, but being that he had a little blood and mucus, I think the Lasix will help. But Algorithms is a nice horse. We won’t take anything away from him, but we should improve,” McLaughlin said. “It might be that we improve and he improves, that we improve because of Lasix and he improves from only running once in so many months. So he might step forward too. And Hansen, the 2-year-old champion, obviously, is in there, so it’s going to be a good race.”

Consortium will break from the No. 2 post position, while Algorithms drew the outside post, two stalls out from Hansen in the starting gate.

“I’d rather have drawn outside. Algorithms got the perfect spot in the 6 hole. We’re in the 2 hole, but we’ll work it out,” McLaughlin said. “He’s really doing well.”

The Holy Bull is the first of three graded stakes on Gulfstream Park’s main track for Kentucky Derby hopefuls, followed by the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) on Feb. 26 and the $1 million Florida Derby on March 31. Consortium’s performance in the one-turn, one-mile stakes will tell his trainer in what direction he will take his colt.

“Hopefully, toward the First Saturday in May,” McLaughlin said.

Ruler On Ice on Course for 2012 Debut in Donn Handicap

Lori and George Hall’s 4-year-old gelding Ruler On Ice, winner of the 2011 Belmont Stakes (G1), remains on target to make his season debut in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream Park on Sat., Feb. 11, according to trainer Kelly Breen.

“He came out of his last race with a little lung infection that took awhile to clean out, but he’s doing great now,” said Breen Thursday afternoon. “When he was down here in Florida last winter he just wasn’t right (made 2011 debut at Aqueduct in early February), but he couldn’t be doing any better now.

“He loves it at Palm Meadows. You won’t see a work on him this weekend, probably just a two-minute lick, and then a final workout on Super Bowl morning (Feb. 5). We’re looking for a good transition from his three to four-year-old (season).”

A son of Roman Ruler purchased for $200,000 at the Keeneland September sale, Ruler On Ice was among the contenders for an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old after finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. He made a bid to enhance his chances with voters running in the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill on Nov. 25, but obviously was not at his best that day finishing fifth.

Sunday Allowance Attracts Deep Field of Derby Hopefuls

While much of the attention Sunday at Gulfstream Park will focus on undefeated 3-year-old Hansen’s highly-anticipated 2012 debut in the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3), an ‘a other than’ allowance carded for 1 1/16 miles around two turns to be run an hour earlier will also have fans and observers looking for potential emerging 3-year-old stars.

The most accomplished in the field of nine are Lets Go Stable’s El Padrino, Javier Castellano; Robert LaPenta’s Casual Trick, John Velazquez; and Chuck and Marybeth Sandford’s Take Charge Indy, Calvin Borel – each stakes-placed and using Sunday’s race to get to a more ambitious objective on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail.

“We didn’t want to turn back to a mile (Holy Bull),” said trainer Pat Byrne Friday morning of Take Charge Indy. “With his pedigree and where we hope to go with him we wanted to bring him back around two turns, but this time a year in Florida you can run into a tough spot like this with horses like Todd’s (Pletcher - El Padrino) and Nick’s (Zito – Casual Trick) in there.

“What you basically have here is an ‘a other than’ (allowance) with a $50,000 purse that’s a Grade 3. He’s trained exceptional. We could have gone to the Sam Davis ($250,000 (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 4) for more money, but that’s a tough track to ship into and run. My biggest concern Sunday is the weather. He loves a ‘sloppy’ track, but I’m not going to get his season started on a wet track.

“We still have to be concerned at some point about having enough money (Graded earnings) to get into the Derby, but if he doesn’t get that in his next race or two after this one, he doesn’t belong there anyhow.”

Take Charge Indy is a regally-bred colt by A.P. Indy out of multiple Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady and made four starts last year, concluding with a respectable fifth-place finish behind Hansen in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on Nov. 5, beaten 6 ¼ lengths for it all. He had finished second in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) and fourth in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland prior to the Breeders’ Cup.

El Padrino was favored in all three of his starts last year for Pletcher, the last a strong finish to be third in the nine-furlong Remsen Stakes (G1) at Aqueduct on Nov. 26, beaten three-quarters of a length for it all. The chestnut colt by Pulpit was a $210,000 Keeneland September purchase and had broken his maiden going a mile at Belmont Park on Oct. 29 by 12 ¾ lengths over a ‘sloppy’ track.

Casual Trick was a $425,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase and just missed by a half-length when second last out in the new $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby over the track and distance on New Year’s Day. The son of Bernardini was impressive breaking his maiden going a mile at Churchill in mid-November after a fifth-place debut at Saratoga in late August.

Completing the field for the race are ARS Racing’s Bartolome, Edgar Prado; Dogwood Stable’s Big Screen, Rajiv Maragh; Em Fleur’s A Boy Named Em, Julien Leparoux; Poplar Hill Equine’s Gaelico, Ramon Dominguez; Jim Tafel’s In the Beat, Emma-Jayne Wilson; and Jacks or Better Farm’s Argentine Tango, Luis Saez.

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