Conquest Stables' Tapit
colt Conquest Big E
took another step toward his 3-year-old debut in the $350,000 Lambholm South Holy Bull (gr. II) Jan. 30 at Gulfstream Park
with an easy half-mile breeze Jan. 24.
Working in company with 6-year-old multiple graded stakes-winning gelding Kaigun
, Conquest Big E went four furlongs in :49 on the main track at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream's satellite training center in Palm Beach County, Fla.
It was the fourth work for Conquest Big E, a two-time winner from four career starts, since arriving in South Florida last month. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith is scheduled to come in from California to ride for the first time in the Holy Bull.
"Our bigger works tend to come a couple weeks out, (but) today was just kind of a stretch-your-legs day and make sure everything's working properly, and we're happy," trainer Mark Casse said of Conquest Big E. "He's been training as good as a horse can train."
Named after stable co-owner Ernie Semersky, Conquest Big E has fired two bullets at Palm Meadows, going four furlongs in :48 Dec. 31, the fastest of 76 horses, and five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 Jan. 18, topping 49 horses.
"He worked extremely well (Jan. 18)," Casse said. "Kaigun is our old pro. They went head-and-head and Kaigun is actually a very good work horse on the dirt. I would say it probably took Kaigun a little more effort to keep up, and "Big E" was just galloping. It was the same thing today."
Conquest Big E, a $700,000 Keeneland September purchase from Gainesway's agency in 2015, ran second in his debut at Churchill Downs
, where he finished 1 1/4 lengths behind next-out grade I winner Brody's Cause
, before he broke through with a maiden victory going 1 1/16 miles in his subsequent start in the slop at Keeneland
. He tracked the leaders before coming up empty in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and finished eighth, beaten less than five lengths, then rebounded with a two-length allowance victory Nov. 28 at Churchill to close his juvenile season.
"My feeling has always been he trains like a really good horse and I think he's run well, but so far in his career I think he's an underachiever," Casse said. "I do see things in him that make me think he is a really good horse, but he has to prove it. This will be a big test."
Other horses possible for the Holy Bull are undefeated multiple graded stakes winner Mohaymen
; Champagne (gr. I) winner Greenpointcrusader
; Florida Stallion In Reality division winner Fellowship
; and Cherry Wine
, an impressive allowance winner Jan. 9 at Gulfstream who worked five furlongs Sunday at Gulfstream in 1:00.88.
Also Sunday, Al Shaqab Racing's Mshawish
breezed a half-mile in :49.31 at Palm Beach Downs
in preparation for a planned start in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Feb. 6.
The versatile 6-year-old son of Medaglia d'Oro
, who captured the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT) last season, will seek grade I credentials on dirt in the 1 1/8-mile Donn on a six-stakes program that will also include the Gulfstream Turf, Fred Hooper (gr. III), and Suwannee River (gr. IIIT), as well as the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint and the Ladies Turf Sprint.
Mshawish scored a graded stakes win on dirt in the Hal's Hope (gr. III) at Gulfstream Jan. 9.
"We have four that are possible. It's possible one of those could go in the Fred Hooper," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "Right now we're leaning to the Donn probably with all four."