July 25, 2024

Conquest Enforcer provides quick dividend in Mathis Brothers

Conquest Enforcer and jockey Flavien Prat win the Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile, Monday, December 26, 2016 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA. © BENOIT PHOTO

Purchased for $785,000 out of the Conquest Stables dispersal at Keeneland November, Conquest Enforcer provided a quick return on investment in Monday’s $201,725 Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) at Santa Anita. The 9-5 favorite opened the Southern California phase of his career with a front-running success for his new connections – owners Loooch Racing Stables, Imaginary Stables, and Raquel Ritchie, and trainer Phil D’Amato.

“I am very happy,” D’Amato said. “He’s settled into our program really nicely and I think the sky is the limit with this horse. (Jockey Flavien) Prat is a great fit for him.

“This horse actually reminds me of Obviously and he guided Obviously to a nice Breeders’ Cup win and hopefully next year we’re doing the same with this horse.”

Conquest Enforcer’s initial trainer, Mark Casse, regarded him very highly. The son of Into Mischief made his debut in last season’s Summer (G2) at Woodbine, finishing fourth after a slow start, and rebounded by routing the Cup and Saucer. This year, he picked up right where he left off by dominating the Queenston and the Charlie Barley, on Woodbine’s Tapeta and turf respectively, versus fellow sophomores.

Casse was bold enough to pitch him in against his elders in the August 20 Play the King (G2), and he responded by hanging tough for third. Back in his own age group for the Allied Forces at Belmont, Conquest Enforcer was simply too good for them in a blistering 1:07.76 for six furlongs on the inner turf. That earned him another try versus older foes in the October 16 Nearctic (G2), where just missed to Canada’s past two male sprint champions, Calgary Cat and Stacked Deck.

As a turf affair restricted to three-year-olds, the Mathis Brothers Mile was the logical spot for Conquest Enforcer’s debut on his new circuit, and he didn’t give his backers a moment’s worry. He readily secured the lead through an opening quarter in :22.91, and despite pressure – ironically from Casse’s runner Blackout – always telegraphed how smoothly he was going, and how indifferent he was to the gadfly. Blackout tried his best to be a pest, forcing the issue through splits of :46.11 and 1:10.29, but was no match once the favorite was set down.

As soon as Prat turned him loose turning for home, Conquest Enforcer bounded clear. His seventh furlong in :11.78 propelled him to a two-length lead, and his final eighth in :11.57 put the race out of reach for the closing Mittersill and Moonlight Drive. Conquest Enforcer held sway by 1 1/4 lengths while clocking 1:33.64 for the mile on good turf, paying $5.60.

“I can’t ask for better than that — it was a great day,” said Prat, who kicked off his graded double with pick-up mount Constellation in the La Brea (G1).

“This horse was very sharp. I just wanted to get him to relax. He broke so sharp, I just wanted him to relax on the lead. He didn’t relax until the backside and then he got going. Phil (D’Amato) said he has a great turn of foot and he seemed so sharp. I was a little worried in the stretch, but he kicked away.”

Jockey Joel Rosario, winner of the Monday opener’s other two graded races aboard Mind Your Biscuits in the Malibu (G1) and Bettys Bambino in the San Simeon (G3), was pleased with Mittersill’s runnr-up effort.

“He ran very hard and the horse that won wasn’t stopping,” Rosario said.” My horse was trying hard, but was just second-best today. I was very comfortable with the pace, and I think the pace was fair. He put in a good run at the end.”

Mittersill had a half-length to spare over the wide-rallying Moonlight Drive. Isotherm swung out six wide before taking fourth. Frank Conversation was a non-threatening sixth, and Blackout tired to seventh of 10.

Conquest Enforcer has now bankrolled $480,640 from his 8-5-0-2 line. His only losses came in his ambitious Summer debut, and against older horses this term, suggesting that D’Amato is right to entertain an optimistic forecast.

Bred by Ivan Dalos’ Tall Oaks Farm in Ontario, Conquest Enforcer originally brought $210,000 as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July. His dam, the unraced Victory Gallop mare Keen Victory, is batting a thousand with all of her runners being stakes performers. Her first is the multiple stakes-placed Keen Gizmo, her second is Conquest Enforcer, and her third is current juvenile filly Conquest Vivi, who boasts a three-for-three mark with wins in the Nandi S. and Victorian Queen S.