Conquest Stables may be relatively new to high-profile horse ownership, but over the last few years they and trainer Mark Casse have had a string of runners who have made some serious noise. From My Conquestadory to Conquest Titan (whose road down the Derby Trail was followed closely here) to Conquest Two Step, hardly a weekend goes by without at least one of their horses in both a delightfully goofy Photoshop and a big race.
I wondered when a son of Curlin would bear their colours.
That became pretty clear when a “Conquest Curlinate” showed up on their roster. The name ranked in the top echelon of absurd names given to Curlin babies, but his debut race suggested he had some serious talent. On November 15 of last year, Conquest Curlinate debuted at Woodbine. The race was a six-furlong sprint, and though he finished fifth, he was finding his best stride late and still only beaten two lengths all told. Six furlongs on the polytrack was probably not going to be Conquest Curlinate’s forte, anyway. In addition to Curlin’s proclivities for distance, his bottom side suggests two turns as well. His dam, the Peaks and Valleys mare Higher World, won the 2004 Mazarine (GII – CAN) at age two, going a mile and a sixteenth over Woodbine’s dirt. The only other of Higher World’s foals to race, Tapit’s World, did graduate going six furlongs on the Arlington polytrack, but has won twice at a mile and a sixteenth and is Grade III placed at a mile. The pedigree combined with his late stride at six panels suggested Conquest Curlinate would like going long.
Yesterday, Conquest Curlinate made his second start. It was his first start on dirt, and at a distance that better befit his breeding: a mile and a sixteenth. He had been working at Oaklawn since mid-December, racking up a sequence of mostly five-furlong works leading up to the start. He was looking a little feisty in the paddock, and even a little feisty in the gate…leaving everyone watching and wondering whether he had nerves before his big day, or if he was just expressing how ready he was to run.
Conquest Curlinate finally calmed down a bit, and the gates opened. He broke a step more slowly than the rest, but Shaun Bridgmohan did not panic. He got Conquest Curlinate settled into stride. Through the clubhouse turn, he chased about a dozen lengths off of Fracula’s early pace. Coming into the backstretch, Conquest Curlinate started to make up ground gradually. Nearing the far turn he got out of the trailing place, passing Perfectly on the outside. Passing the quarter pole Conquest Curlinate was moving nicely: wide, but improving position. Turning for home, he had clear sailing on the outside, but still had a couple of lengths to make up.
By then, Leitrim had eclipsed Fracula on the front end. Conquest Curlinate hit his best stride, and took full advantage of the open track in front of him. He passed Leitrim near the sixteenth pole as if he had passed a million horses before. He won by a widening 2 1/4 length, leaving the favoured Leitrim to settle for second.
Where will he go from here? Time will tell…but without getting ahead of things, Conquest Curlinate looks like another promising Curlin baby who relishes two turns.