Updated on 09/17/2011 10:01PM

Consolidator wins the week

Consolidator's big San Felipe win has trainer D. Wayne Lukas feeling good on the Derby trail.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Close your eyes, and listen to the voices of D. Wayne Lukas and Bobby Knight. They are practically indistinguishable from each other. The cadence, the inflection, the air of confidence, all sound similar. Both had plenty to talk about after this past weekend. Knight moved on to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA basketball tournament with Texas Tech, and Lukas advanced on the road to the Kentucky Derby with the weekend's best performance among the 3-year-olds, a runaway victory by his trainee Consolidator in the at Santa Anita.

Consolidator earned a 104 Beyer Speed Figure in the San Felipe, far and away the best number recorded by the winners of Saturday's four major preps. Greater Good got a 95 for his upset in the at Aqueduct.

None of the races, however, was particularly satisfying. Consolidator's win was earned over a speed-biased track that hindered late runners, and left Wilko and Roman Ruler nursing quarter cracks. The figs in the other three races were only moderate, and in the case of the Rebel and Gotham, as many questions were raised as were answered.

For instance, what's up with Afleet Alex? The heavy favorite in the Rebel, who was the favored individual horse in Pool 2 of the , ran last and emerged from the Rebel with what trainer Tim Ritchey said was a lung infection. Afleet Alex on Saturday also wore front leg wraps for his second consecutive start this year. He did not wear them in any of his six starts last year.

"He has a lung infection," Ritchey said. "It's treatable, obviously. He'll have seven days of antibiotics and that should clear it right up. We took a culture on it just to make sure we're treating it with the right antibiotics. It's just a slight bump in the road."

Rockport Harbor had encountered several road bumps preceding the Rebel, then compounded his plight by breaking poorly and rushing up in the race, but he and his troublesome right hind foot emerged from his gallant second-place finish in excellent condition, trainer John Servis said.

His foot "didn't look any worse for the wear," Servis said.

"I was very happy," Servis said of Rockport Harbor's performance in his first start of the year. "He ran great. Knowing where he is, that was a big, big race. I'm a lot closer to where I want to be."

Greater Good, the Rebel winner, has now won three straight races, is 5 for 7 overall, and owns a stakes victory at Churchill Downs, the site of the May 7 Derby. Perhaps it is way past time to give him his due.

"He's a strong finisher, and he does everything right," said his trainer, Bob Holthus. "He hadn't missed a beat. He had a perfect winter. He worked every day we wanted to work him."

Afleet Alex, Greater Good, and Rockport Harbor all are scheduled to meet again in the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 16.

April 16 is also the next race date for Consolidator and Sun King, but they will square off in the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, a race that is also expected to draw High Limit, the Louisiana Derby winner.

Lukas said he preferred the Blue Grass to the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 9 because it gives Consolidator an extra week.

"I like having four weeks now, then three going into the Derby," Lukas said.

With Consolidator leaving town, and Declan's Moon on the shelf, the Santa Anita Derby favorite might very well be the champion filly, Sweet Catomine. Those remaining for the Santa Anita Derby include Giacomo and Don't Get Mad, who finished second and third, respectively, in the San Felipe.

"At this point in the game you just want to keep moving forward," said John Shirreffs, who trains Giacomo.

Ron Ellis, who trains Don't Get Mad, was upset that the Santa Anita track was as hard as it was Saturday. "I'm going to go to Arkansas if it's this hard," he said. The Santa Anita Derby is Ellis's first choice, but the Arkansas Derby is a backup.

Wilko was being pointed to the Santa Anita Derby, but a quarter crack suffered Saturday to his right front hoof might force him to await the Blue Grass, trainer Craig Dollase said.

Golden Shine, who finished fifth, will likely come back in the Santa Anita Derby, trainer David Hofmans said.

Sun King basically had a paid workout against six overmatched rivals in the Tampa Bay Derby. Zito also has the Derby contenders Andromeda's Hero, Bellamy Road, High Fly, and Noble Causeway, but he said Sun King is his best chance.

"A lot of horses have nicknames," Zito said. "We call Sun King 'Elvis,' because around our barn, he's the king. He's right on top. He has to be."

In the Gotham, the first five finishers were within 1 1/2 lengths of one another. Survivalist, the winner, and Naughty New Yorker, who finished fourth, are scheduled to return in the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9. Pavo, who remarkably finished second despite jockey Alan Garcia losing his irons midway through the race, might also come back in the Wood.

Galloping Grocer, the third-place finisher in the Gotham, will run next in either the Wood or the Grade 2, $500,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne, also on April 9. Others expected for the Wood include Bellamy Road, Going Wild, and Scrappy T.

- additional reporting by David Grening, Mary Rampellini, and Mike Welsch