Steve Andersen, DRF
Conquest Two Step has grown up nicely following a two-month break last fall.
Benoit & Associates
Joe Talamo collects his third of four winners on Saturday's card aboard Conquest Two Step in the Palos Vercdes.
After finishing second to Shared Belief in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, Conquest Two Step won the first stakes of his career in Saturday’s $200,250 Palos Verdes Stakes at six furlongs.
Conquest Two Step ($13) was timed in 1:08.10, beating four graded stakes winners in Secret Circle, Wild Dude, Distinctiv Passion, and Big Macher, as well as the longshot Chief Lion.
The time was the fastest six furlongs of the meeting, which began Dec. 26.
Conquest Two Step was ridden by Joe Talamo, his third of four winners on the card. Talamo had an ideal trip on the 4-year-old Conquest Two Step, who races for Conquest Stables and trainer Mark Casse. Talamo had Conquest Two Step in fourth after a quarter-mile in 21.21 seconds, racing about six lengths behind Distinctiv Passion, Big Macher, and Secret Circle.
“When those three hooked up, we had a perfect trip,” Talamo said.
Conquest Two Step was third with a quarter-mile remaining and second with a furlong to go. He caught the stretch leader Secret Circle in the final sixteenth to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Secret Circle, the winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2013, finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of Wild Dude, who won the 2014 Palos Verdes.
Distinctiv Passion, the winner of the Grade 3 Midnight Lute Stakes here Dec. 27, faded to finish fourth, 3 1/2 lengths behind Big Macher, the winner of the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar last summer. Big Macher was second to the turn but faded through the stretch. He still finished clear of the 44-1 shot Chief Lion.
Conquest Two Step was the 5-1 fourth choice in a field of six. The price did not surprise Casse, considering the depth of the field.
“I understand why people want to see two in a row,” he said. “Things set up nicely for him. I was smiling pretty big on the backside.”
Conquest Two Step has won 3 of 10 starts and earned $309,408. He was second in the Colin Stakes at Woodbine as a 2-year-old in 2013 and third in the El Cajon Stakes at Del Mar last August. Conquest Two Step won an optional claimer on the hillside turf course here in late October and did not start again until a neck loss to Shared Belief in the Malibu.
Alex Campbell, DRF
Trainer Mark Casse could win his seventh Sovereign Award for outstanding trainer, and a number of horses from his stable could win divisional titles, as the Jockey Club of Canada released the finalists for the 40th Sovereign Awards on Tuesday.
The Casse contingent is led by Woodbine Oaks and Queen’s Plate winner Lexie Lou, a finalist in the 3-year-old female and turf female divisions who also will garner plenty of consideration for Canadian Horse of the Year. The three finalists for Canadian Horse of the Year will be revealed during the Sovereign Awards ceremony at Woodbine on April 10.
Patrick Husbands, who was aboard Lexie Lou in the Woodbine Oaks and Queen’s Plate, will look to win his first Sovereign Award since 2009 and is joined by Luis Contreras, Eurico Da Silva, and Rico Walcott in the outstanding jockey division.The Casse contingent is led by Woodbine Oaks and Queen’s Plate winner Lexie Lou, a finalist in the 3-year-old female and turf female divisions who also will garner plenty of consideration for Canadian Horse of the Year. The three finalists for Canadian Horse of the Year will be revealed during the Sovereign Awards ceremony at Woodbine on April 10.
In all, 10 horses trained by Casse were named finalists in their respective divisions. Joining Lexie Lou are Conquest Harlanate (2-year-old female), Mississippi Delta (2-year-old female), Conquest Tsunami (2-year-old male), Conquest Typhoon (2-year-old male), Florida Won (3-year-old male), Hillaby (older female, female sprinter), Spring in the Air (older female, female sprinter), Sky Captain (older male), and Dynamic Sky (turf male).
Coltimus Prime and Ami’s Holiday, the other two Canadian classic winners in 2014, will do battle again in the 3-year-old male division, but Heart to Heart made a case for divisional honors with a strong finish to the season that saw him win three straight stakes on turf, including a pair of Grade 3 victories at Churchill Downs in the Jefferson Cup and Commonwealth Turf stakes.
Calgary Cat, claimed for $25,000 by trainer Kevin Attard and owners Stephen Chesney and Cory Hoffman in November 2013, led all horses with five wins at Woodbine in 2014, two of which came in graded stakes. He is a finalist in the male sprinter division, along with Excaper, Phil’s Dream, and Sharp Sensation.
Calgary Cat (male sprinter, older male), Excaper (turf male, male sprinter), and Lexie Lou are among seven horses to be named a finalist in two separate divisions. Others include HIllaby, Spring in the Air, Executive Allure (female sprinter, turf female), and Heart to Heart (3-year-old male, turf male).
To be eligible for a Sovereign Award in each divisional category, horses ages 3 and up must have raced in Canada at least three times in 2014, and 2-year-olds must have raced in Canada at least twice.
Brooklynsway, Conquest Harlanate, London Tower, Mississippi Delta
Conquest Tsunami, Conquest Typhoon, Decision Day, Phil’s Cocktail
Executive Allure, Lexie Lou, Paladin Bay, Sweater Weather
Ami’s Holiday, Coltimus Prime, Florida Won, Heart to Heart
Hillaby, Silent Star, Spring in the Air, Strut the Course
Calgary Cat, Lukes Alley, Sharp Sensation, Sky Captain
Deceptive Vision, Executive Allure, Lexie Lou, Royal Fury
Dynamic Sky, Excaper, Heart to Heart, Sharp Sensation
Cactus Kris, Executive Allure, Hillaby, Spring in the Air
Calgary Cat, Excaper, Phil’s Dream, Sharp Sensation
Cruising Kris, Eye of the Sphinx, Star Guest, Uproar
Adena Springs, Paradox Farm Inc., Sam-Son Farm, William Sorokolit
Gary Barber, Conquest Stables LLC, John Oxley, Sam-Son Farm
Josie Carroll, Mark Casse, Brian Lynch, Greg Tracy
Outstanding apprentice jockey
Damario Bynoe, Sheena Ryan, Erika Smilovsky, Nick Webb
Luis Contreras, Eurico Da Silva, Patrick Husbands, Rico Walcott