Consolidator, with Rafael Bejarano aboard, wins the San Felipe Stakes.

Consolidator, with Rafael Bejarano aboard, wins the San Felipe Stakes.

Benoit photo

Consolidator Sharpens Picture in San Felipe

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas promised Consolidator would be a fitter horse for Saturday's $250,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita. The $1.25 million colt didn't disappoint, romping to a surprising, powerful victory for owners Robert and Beverly Lewis.

With leading New York and Kentucky rider Rafael Bejarano in the irons, Consolidator responded when challenged by Giacomo on the turn for home and pulled away in the stretch to win by 6 1/2 lengths in a stakes-record 1:40.11 for the 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds on a track labeled wet fast due to earlier rain. Consolidator, a son of Storm Cat didn't just break the mark, he shattered the 1979 record set by Pole Position by 1 1/5 seconds.

Giacomo held on for second with Mike Smith aboard and Don't Get Mad and Tyler Baze came on late for third, a half-length behind the runner-up.

Roman Ruler, a lukewarm 3-1 choice in the field of eight, was not a factor. Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Wilko finished fourth.

Consolidator disappointed in his 2005 debut, fading to finish last of four in the seven-furlong San Vicente (gr. II) as the even-money favorite at Santa Anita Feb. 13. Lukas took responsibility, saying he did not work the colt hard enough for the race. Consolidator turned in three sharp works in the interim.

"I just did a poor job the first time," Lukas said. "I went after him a little bit more in the mornings, picked up on those gallops. And I just said, 'Look, it's time to grow up.'

"I probably pampered him a little bit. But I went back and said, 'I know how to get there. I've been there before, I know what to do.' So I tried to correct it and I asked him to do a little more. I leaned on him."

Lukas said Consolidator would run in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 9 or the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland a week later. Both are 1 1/8-mile races.

The main goal, of course, is the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby (gr. I) on May 7.

"We want to win the damn thing," Lukas said.

The winner of the Breeders Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland in October, Consolidator ran fourth behind Wilko in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). He now has a 3-1-1 record in nine starts and earnings of $639,260.

Wilko was followed by Golden Shine, Lucky J.H., In Excelsis and Roman Ruler. All eight entries carried 116 pounds.

Wilko and Roman Ruler were making their 3-year-old debuts. Roman Ruler hadn't run since finishing fifth as the favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Consolidator, breaking from the far outside, was away first before settling in behind pacesetter Lucky J.H., who led under pressure from the winner through fractions of :23 2/5, and :46. Bejarano allowed Consolidator to move up on the leader on the turn after six furlongs in 1:09 3/5 as Giacomo also challenged. But early on in the stretch run, it was apparent that no one was going to get by the winner, who stretched his advantage with every stride.

"When I asked him, my horse kicked free, really really good. He never stopped," Bejarano said. "And when I used my whip, he came home even better."

Consolidator paid $16.40, $6.80 and $4.20. Giacomo returned $4.80 and $3.20 and completed a $71.40 exacta. The lightly raced Don't Get Mad, who has replaced Declan's Moon as trainer Ron Ellis' leading Triple Crown contender, was $3.20 to show in his first start at two turns.

(Chart, Equibase)