January 27, 2023

Major Dude, Cairo Consort kick off sophomore seasons on Gulfstream turf

Major Dude wins the 2022 Pilgrim Stakes (Coglianese Photography)

Major Dude proved no serious threat in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) when last seen in November, but his past accomplishments will make him one of the prime players in Saturday’s $100,000 Dania Beach S. at Gulfstream Park.

The one-mile Dania Beach is one of two grass features for new three-year-olds on the Gulfstream card, the other being the $100,000 Ginger Brew for fillies, also over a mile.

Major Dude entered the Breeders’ Cup off a 10-1 upset win in his turf debut, the Pilgrim (G2) at Aqueduct, which was run over yielding ground. Cool on the board at 15-1 in the Juvenile Turf at Keeneland, Major Dude rated in fourth until the stretch, when he lost position and wound up ninth of 14. However, the son of Bolt d’Oro was beaten less than four lengths by European invader Victoria Road.

The only other previous stakes winner in the field is Congruent, who captured an off-the-turf renewal of the Laurel Futurity in October over a sloppy track. Well beaten in his own Breeders’ Cup attempt, in the Juvenile (G1) on dirt, Congruent made his belated turf debut in the Dec. 10 Pulpit S. at Gulfstream, finishing 3 1/4 lengths back in third.

Several colts with room for improvement are exiting allowance wins. Worthington captured one of the few grass races carded during the Churchill Downs fall meet, taking a first-level allowance by more than two lengths on Nov. 26. Candidate is 2-for-3 following a recent win at Tampa Bay Downs for Arnaud Delacour, while multiple stakes-placed Cheerful Charlie makes his turf debut in the Dania Beach after competing on Tapeta in nine of his first 10 starts.

The field is completed by Barzini, who has won both previous starts on grass in sprints, and French invader Souzak, who is stakes-placed and won minor events last season at Deauville and Longchamp.

Pletcher also has the likely favorite in the Ginger Brew, Cairo Consort. Acquired by her current connections for $875,000 at the Fasig-Tipton November sale, Cairo Consort won the Catch a Glimpse S. and finished second as the favorite in the Natalma (G1) at Woodbine prior to finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) in her final start for former trainer Nathan Squires.

Anna Karenine will surely get attention by default debuting for Chad Brown. The import finished a head of the aforementioned Souzak in a sprint stakes in the French provinces last July before finishing four lengths fifth in her final start overseas, the Prix du Calvados (G2) at Deauville.

Also likely to get some play among the field of nine are Stephanie’s Charm, who placed in the Our Dear Peg S. and Wait a While S. at Gulfstream late last season, and Erna, who lost on debut by a neck to eventual Jimmy Durante (G3) winner Liguria before graduating by the same margin over the Ginger Brew course and distance Dec. 10.