March 29, 2023

Cairo Consort, Candidate start campaigns on winning note over Gulfstream turf

Cairo Consort wins the Ginger Brew Stakes (Photo by Ryan Thompson/Coglianese Photos)

Cairo Consort made her debut for new connections a winning one in Saturday’s $100,000 Ginger Brew S. at Gulfstream Park, a one-mile turf test for three-year-old fillies.

Winner of the Catch a Glimpse S. at Woodbine and subsequently placed in the Natalma (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) last fall, Cairo Consort was strongly favored to assert her class in the Ginger Brew at odds of 1-2. She ultimately did so, but gave her many backers some anxious moments early on when showing hesitancy during the loading process and bobbling leaving the gate.

The latter didn’t affect Cairo Consort’s ability to gain early position in fourth, about three lengths off the lead, and she enjoyed a suitable tracking trip to mid-stretch, when she kicked on late to win by a half-length from Stephanie’s Charm, who rallied from the rear of the field to grab second. Navy Goat edged Erna for third by a neck, 1 1/4 lengths behind Stephanie’s Charm.

Cairo Consort finished up the mile on firm ground in 1:35.80 under Irad Ortiz Jr. and paid $3 for Repole Stable and Town and Country Racing, who purchased the daughter of Cairo Prince for $850,000 at the Keeneland November sale. Todd Pletcher now trains Cairo Consort, who was based at Woodbine last year with Nathan Squires.

“It was a perfect trip,” Ortiz said. “She was close to the leaders and then a took a hold and she relaxed real well behind horses. At the three-eighths pole I asked her to start going forward and she did. She responded every time I asked her. Turning for home, she opened up by a half-length and then when she felt the horse outside, she was there. She had a little more in the tank.”

Bred in Kentucky by Frankfort Park Farm, Cairo Consort was produced by Absolutely Awesome, a Street Cry half-sister to Grade 1 winner Awesome Maria. Cairo Consort’s third dam, Alabama (G1) scorer Pretty Discreet, reared Grade 1 winners Discreet Cat and Discreetly Mine.

Another heavily favored Pletcher-trained favorite, Pilgrim (G2) scorer Major Dude, didn’t fare as well earlier in the card in the $100,000 Dania Beach S. for three-year-olds. The victory instead went to Candidate, who made his stakes debut a winning one in wire-to-wire fashion under Tyler Gaffalione.

Sent off at 7-1 off of a first-level allowance win at Tampa Bay Downs last month, Candidate received little pressure on the front end, opened up a three-length lead in mid-stretch, and held even-money choice Major Dude safe by 1 3/4 lengths at the wire. Worthington finished two lengths farther back in third. Owned by Mark Grier and trained by Arnaud Delacour, Candidate covered one mile on the turf in 1:34.71 and paid $17.20.

“Everything went to plan. He broke alertly, put himself in a good spot and relaxed nicely on the front end,” Gaffalione said. “Going into the second turn I just asked him to pick it up and he just kept finding. It was a really good performance today.”

Candidate, who lost his debut over a sloppy main track at Laurel, is now undefeated in three subsequent starts on the grass. Bred in Kentucky by Rose Hill Farm and Thoroughbred Acadiana, Candidate is by Exaggerator and out of the multiple stakes-winning Navy Ribbon, by Pure Prize. He sold for $150,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic juvenile sale at Timonium.