Gary Barber’s Conquest Tsunami took command of Saturday’s $150,690 Daytona Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park under jockey Victor Espinoza and never looked back en route to a 2 1/2-length victory.
The six-year-old gelding earned his second straight score for trainer Peter Miller, who covered the trifecta as fellow trainees Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) upsetter Stormy Liberal and Calculator finished second and third, respectively.
It was also the second win for Conquest Tsunami since the San Luis Rey Downs fire. One of Miller’s horses stabled at the training center, the bay son of Stormy Atlantic was originally reported as a casualty of the blaze but it turned out to be incorrect and he was later reported to be safe.
Conquest Tsunami posted splits of :21.99, :44.09 and 1:06.14 while chased by 9-5 favorite Calculator. Stormy Liberal joined the fray for the stretch run and managed to get the best of Calculator by 1 1/4 lengths on the wire but could not catch his other stablemate, who completed about 6 1/2 furlongs on the firm downhill turf in 1:12.03.
Stormy Liberal did join the millionaire’s club thanks to his runner-up effort and now boasts $1,013,570 in lifetime earnings.
Tombelaine followed 2 1/4 lengths behind Calculator, while Perfectly Majestic missed fourth by a nose. What a View and Fabozzi finished the order under the line.
Conquest Tsunami was sent off at 5-1 and returned $12.40 to his backers. The Ontario-bred bay was trained by Mark Casse for his first 20 starts, capturing the 2014 editions of the Colin Stakes and Victoria Stakes at Woodbine and Churchill Downs’ Street Sense Stakes. He joined Miller’s shedrow following a seventh-place run in an optional claimer at Woodbine last November.
The fire at San Luis Rey Downs struck December 7. On January 20, Conquest Tsunami showed up at Santa Anita Park and captured an allowance/optional claimer on the downhill turf by 4 1/4 lengths in gate-to-wire fashion.
Now 8-2-2 from 22 starts, Conquest Tsunami has banked $503,066 lifetime. Following the Daytona, Miller mentioned Dubai is now under consideration for his pupil. The six-furlong Al Quoz Sprint (UAE-G1) is scheduled for March 31.
Bred by Josham Farms Limited and Yvonne Schwabe Thoroughbreds, Conquest Tsunami is out of the Grade 3-placed stakes-winning El Corredor mare Classic Neel and is a full brother to stakes runner-up Stormy Pacific. Classic Neel is herself a half-sister to fellow Grade 3-placed stakes winner Budge Man.
Victor Espinoza, jockey Conquest Tsunami, winner
“It was an excellent trip. There was just one way to go. I broke in front and kept my position all the way to the wire. I think for him, the main thing is to let him go and just run his race. I felt he was going pretty quick but he was doing it so easily so I was pretty much a passenger. I just wanted to make sure he crossed the dirt OK and then let him really run in the stretch.
“The way he ran today, and this is obviously the first time I’ve been on him, but he’s pretty amazing. It takes nothing away from the other two horses who ran second and third, who are good horses, but he was much the best today.”
Joel Rosario, jockey Stormy Liberal, second
“He ran well, but it looked like the winner ran a real big race. My horse tried hard, but we just couldn’t catch that horse.”
Peter Miller, trainer Conquest Tsunami (winner), Stormy Liberal (second) and Calculator (third)
“Unbelievable. They all showed up, they got three great rides, and we’ve got three great owners.
“That was kind of the plan (to have Conquest Tsunami in front). We thought Conquest was the quickest, even though Calculator went :20 and four (for the first quarter) last time, but that’s not him. That was just an aberration. He was extra keen that day. This race kind of went to plan, they all got good trips, maybe Stormy Liberal was a little further back than I would have liked, but for his first race since Hong Kong, I thought he went well. All three of them ran super.”
Gary Barber, owner Conquest Tsunami, winner
“The way he runs, maybe we’ll try Dubai, if we get invited. He did well with Mark Casse (at Woodbine, Toronto, Canada), but I thought he wanted firmer turf. He loves the downhill here, he really does. This course is perfect for him.”