10/25/2004 11:00PM

Consolidator rights ship just in time

Email

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - They have run only one of the first 20 Breeders' Cup Juveniles without D. Wayne Lukas. They weren't about to run another.

Just when it seemed like Lukas would not be represented in the race, Consolidator jumped up and won the Grade 1 Lane's End Breeders Futurity at Keeneland. Now, Lukas will aim for his sixth victory in the Juvenile with a colt who has won a two-turn, 1 1/16-mile race, the same conditions of the Juvenile.

Consolidator looked like he was heading in the wrong direction this summer at Saratoga, running third in the Sanford, beaten 5 1/2 lengths, and fourth in the Grade 1 Hopeful, beaten 13 lengths.

Lukas said he felt Consolidator ran spotty in the Sanford, which is why he put blinkers on him for the Hopeful. Consolidator was a bit too keen in the Hopeful and also didn't appear to be comfortable running over the sloppy track.

"Once that was over, I was thinking he'd be better around two turns, but he wasn't going to get two turns with that kind of style," Lukas said. "I took a little off the fastball. I worked on nothing but relaxation. I took the blinkers off."

After pressing Bellamy Road through a moderate opening quarter in the Lane's End, Consolidator was eased back on the backstretch before re-engaging the front-runner approaching the five-sixteenth pole. Consolidator came home an easy two-length winner.

"Getting him to relax and going two turns were the two things I was trying to do," Lukas said.

A $1.25 million son of Storm Cat, Consolidator will show only one published workout between the Breeders' Futurity and the Juvenile. On Oct. 18, he breezed four furlongs in 47.40 seconds in the slop at Churchill. Rather than drill him again this week, Lukas simply let him gallop strongly through the stretch Monday before shipping him to Lone Star on Tuesday.

"He put a lot into his last work and galloped out real strong," Lukas said. "The problem working this week is that I didn't want to work him five-eighths this close to the race."

Rafael Bejarano, the nation's leading jockey in terms of races won, will have the call on Consolidator. In addition to winning the Lane's End aboard him, Bejarano also rode him in the Grade 3 Kentucky Breeders' Cup, in which he finished second, beaten a neck.

"Bejarano, he's aggressive and he's got extreme confidence," Lukas said. "Bejarano walks out of the jocks' room and he thinks he's going to win every race. What he lacks in experience, he makes up for in his aggressiveness and confidence."

Blinkers off Roman Ruler

Trainer Bob Baffert said Roman Ruler would not run in blinkers in Saturday's Juvenile. Roman Ruler won the Grade 2 Norfolk by 4 1/2 lengths wearing blinkers for the first time.

"I was worried about his antics before the race," he said. "At Del Mar, I think he was all charged up. He's a very smart horse. He's doing really well now. We feel he doesn't need them."

* Twice Unbridled, a maiden, worked three furlongs in 35.40 seconds at San Luis Rey Downs Tuesday morning.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman