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 five," 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 December 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 and Algorithms will meet again in Sunday's Grade 3 Holy Bull, which drew a field of six, including the 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile 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," McLaughlin said. "But Algorithms is a nice horse. We won't take anything away from him, but we should improve.
"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 two-year-old champion, obviously, is in there, so it's going to be a good race."
Consortium will break from the number 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 Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on February 26 and the Grade 1 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.
In other Holy Bull news, trainer Mike Maker is pleased with unbeaten champion Hansen on the eve of his sophomore bow in the Holy Bull.
"We've had no bumps in the road," Maker said of Hansen's training ahead of his return to competition. "Hopefully, that trend continues.
"It's no different than a closer," said Maker, alluding to Hansen's front-running style. "You're dependent on the pace. You just hope no one makes him go quicker earlier than he has to."
Several promising three-year-olds preferred to contest a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming event on Saturday rather than the Holy Bull. Among them is Take Charge Indy, as trainer Pat Byrne explained.
"We didn't want to turn back to a mile (Holy Bull)," Byrne said Friday morning. "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 and Nick's in there."
Byrne was referring to El Padrino and Casual Trick from the Todd Pletcher and Nick Zito barns, respectively.
"What you basically have here is an 'a other than' (allowance) with a $50,000 purse that's a Grade 3," the horseman said.
Take Charge Indy, a regally-bred colt by A.P. Indy out of multiple Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady, romped by 6 1/2 lengths in his career debut at Arlington Park last July. Second in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity next out, he was fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity and a respectable fifth behind Hansen in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, beaten 6 1/4 lengths for it all.
"He's trained exceptional," Byrne said. "We could have gone to the Sam Davis (a Grade 3 worth $250,000 at Tampa Bay Downs on February 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."