01/22/2011 1:41PM

Soldat's big win in slop earns him shot at Fountain of Youth

Bob Coglianese
Soldat cruises to a 10 3/4-length allowance win in the slop at Gulfstream on Friday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – “Can you get me the long range forecast for Florida Derby Day?”

That was a smiling Kiaran McLaughlin’s first comment in the winner’s circle after his 3-year-old prospect Soldat had skipped through the slop to a convincing 10 3/4-length victory over Cool Blue Red Hot and five other 3-year-olds in Friday’s nine-furlong allowance feature. The performance thrust Soldat, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up, right into the thick of any current discussion regarding potential Kentucky Derby candidates.

McLaughlin was hoping to find out “now rather than later” whether Soldat, already a Grade 3 stakes winner on grass, could be as effective on dirt as he has been on turf. And while he couldn’t have been happier with the result, McLaughlin admits the only thing he knows for sure is that Soldat is going to be a tough horse to beat down the road over a wet racetrack.

“That was an impressive race but it was wet out there so how he handles a fast track might still be a question,” said McLaughlin. “The one thing I do know for certain is that the track was brown, not green today, so that’s good. Staying the distance was a question going in but he was pressured all the way by a nice horse and was still able to pull away. And I just loved the way he galloped out.”

Soldat, who was ridden by Alan Garcia, received a career-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure for his second career victory on Friday, 18 points higher than the number he got for his second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup.

McLaughlin said he would definitely target the 1 1/8-mile, Grade 2 Fountain of Youth here on Feb. 26 for Soldat’s next start.

Liberty Cap points to Hallandale Beach

McLaughlin also has a couple of other 3-year-olds of note to watch here later in the meet, Liberty Cap and Crossbow.

Liberty Cap, a Kentucky-bred son of Street Cry, began his career in Europe, where he won 2 of 8 starts at 2 with trainer John Gosden. He was purchased at the Tattersalls Autumn sales in late October by the Namcook Stable and sent to McLaughlin, who said the horse is a couple of works away from his first 3-year-old start, which would likely come in the Hallandale Beach Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf on Feb. 6.

Crossbow shipped down from McLaughlin’s New York stable to Palm Meadows following his impressive maiden win at Aqueduct and posted his first south Florida work Saturday, breezing a half-mile in 49.00 seconds at the training center in Boynton Beach.

Fly Down, Capt. Candyman Can breeze five furlongs

Other prominent area workers on Saturday included prospective Donn Handicap candidate Fly Down and 2009 Hutcheson Stakes winner Capt. Candyman Can. Both worked five furlongs at Palm Meadows. Fly Down went in 1:00.60 and Capt. Candyman Can posted a bullet 1:00.20.

Beautician also breezed over the fast track Saturday at Palm Meadows, cruising an easy half-mile in 50.80 in her first recorded workout since a poor showing in the Grade 2 Raven Run last fall at Keeneland.

Two tune up for Sunshine Millions Classic

At Calder, Sunshine Millions Classic hopefuls Tackleberry and Duke of Mischief both worked over a fast but very cuppy track on Saturday. Tackleberry, who finished a tiring fourth behind Soaring Empire in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope earlier in the meet, worked four furlongs in 49.00 while Duke of Mischief went five-eighths in 1:03.20.

Other prospective Classic starters include First Dude, Cigar Man, Birdrun, Dream Maestro, Sincero, Lucas Brady, and Dry Martini. The Classic is the richest of three Sunshine Millions races to be decided here on Saturday.

Entries for the Sunshine Millions will be drawn Wednesday.