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McLaughlin Glad to Have Soldat Back

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin

Multiple graded stakes winner Soldat returns to the races for the first time in more than eight months Saturday afternoon at Aqueduct when he faces nine others in the $80,000 If Winter Comes overnight stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.


The 4-year-old War Front colt’s only other start of 2012 was on March 4 at Gulfstream Park, where he came off a 10-month layoff and posted a three-length victory in an optional claiming race. That 1 1/16-mile turf race was Soldat’s first start since an 11th-place finish in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, after which he was given time off with foot problems and next encountered other minor physical issues.


“He’s doing well,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin of Soldat, who counts the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and the Grade 3 With Anticipation among his four career victories. “He’s won on dirt and turf, but he’s better on turf. The timing of this race is good.”


Owned by Harvey Clarke, Soldat returned to training in September at Belmont and has had six published works since, most recently covering five furlongs in 1:02.06 on November 11 over the training track.


Dance Card will make her graded stakes debut in the Grade 1, $350,000 Gazelle on Cigar Mile day, the trainer confirmed.


The 3-year-old Tapit filly has won three of her four career starts, most recently a 7 ½-length triumph in the Belle Cherie overnight stakes on September 23 at Belmont.


“Dance Card is doing great,” said the trainer. “She’s going to switch [from Darley] to Godolphin and run under the blue team. She’s had three works in a row and we’ll work her one more time, probably Sunday or Monday, before the race.”


Dance Card’s only defeat came in her May 20 debut at Belmont when she finished second to eventual stakes winner Book Review.


“If you watch the race, or read the chart, it was wild,” said McLaughlin. “She broke slow, down on the inside, rushed up down the backstretch, circled five-wide on the turn, opened up four lengths and then got caught by Book Review. She could easily be undefeated, Dance Card – it was a wild race. You have to respect Book Review, but we’re better than that now. Very nice filly.”



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