Kiaran McLaughlin said he wasn’t nearly as surprised as bettors at Aqueduct last November when Consortium won by nearly five lengths at 13-1 in his debut.
Expectations were high then, and hopes are now as the Grade III Holy Bull looms on Sunday.
“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 five,” McLaughlin said. “He’s so well bred. Bernardini is such a great sire. It’s nice to have quite a few Bernardini's in the barn.”
Todd Pletcher also has a very talented son of Bernardini in his barn. 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 1/2 -furlong entry-level allowance.
Consortium get get first-time Lasix in the Holy Bull. He was scoped after the loss to Algorithms and a subsequent workout.
“He’s not a bad bleeder, but he did show signs of bleeding mixing in with the mucus,” the trainer said. “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 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, Grade II Fountain of Youth on Feb. 26 and the $1 million, Grade I Florida Derby on March 31. Consortium’s performance in the Holy Bull will tell his trainer in what direction to will take his colt.
“Hopefully, toward the First Saturday in May,” McLaughlin said.
--Edited track release with additional content by Dick Downey