Described by consignor Paul Sharp as a horse with presence, Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) entrant Conquest Titan will seek to provide the Ocala-based pinhooker with his first ever Breeders' Cup victory.
Sold out of Sharp's consignment at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s March Sale of selected 2-year-olds in training, Conquest Titan was purchased by Ernie Semersky and Dory Newell's Conquest Stables for $475,000 on the advice of trainer Mark Casse.
"As a yearling, he was a horse that fit our eye," said Sharp who bought the Birdstone colt for $75,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale. "He wasn't overly big, but he definitely had charisma. He was a very athletic-type horse with a lot of balance, and we liked the dam's side of his family being out of a Mineshaft mare. He had a lot of presence."
Conquest Titan embraced his initial paces with an ease that impressed Sharp, and the athletic colt hit all his marks during the training process. Flashing the precocity that Sharp had witnessed early on, Conquest Titan turned heads at the OBS under tack preview, working an eighth of a mile in :10 flat.
"Right away we knew was a really good mover on the racetrack," said Sharp who sold 18 of 26 juveniles offered this year for $1,475,000. "He's a smart horse, and nothing was ever a problem for him."
Sent off as the odds-on favorite in his six-furlong career debut at Churchill Downs in June, Conquest Titan led the field that day through a blazing opening quarter mile in :21 2/5 before faltering in the lane to finish fourth.
Conquest Titan evidently learned enough in his bow to parlay his first taste of afternoon competition to a dominating win in his second start. Again dispatched as the odds-on favorite, Conquest Titan crushed six overmatched rivals in Woodbine's $125,000 Swynford Stakes at seven furlongs Aug. 24, covering the distance in 1:23 3/5.
Faced with numerous challenges in his first try over a distance of ground, Conquest Titan finished fifth in the Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland Oct. 5. Amidst a driving rain, Conquest Titan raced in tight quarters throughout the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack fixture and was bumped repeatedly at critical junctures. Still in the thick of it turning for home, Conquest Titan was ultimately beaten nearly eight lengths by winner We Miss Artie.
"He had a bit of a rough go of it in his first race," said Sharp. "He got bumped around and just couldn't establish any position. We were excited with the stakes win, though. That was a big effort. He won that rather easily. His race at Keeneland is a throw out. The conditions just weren't favorable with all that rain."
On the fence about whether or not to enter Conquest Titan in the Juvenile, Casse saw enough in the colt's Oct. 21 five-furlong drill in 1:00 4/5 over the dirt at Churchill Downs to commit to the race.
Conquest Titan will be the second Breeders' Cup starter for Sharp. He was previously represented by grade I winner Black Seventeen who sold for $150,000 at the 2006 OBS Selected Sale of 2-year-olds in training. A Florida-bred son of Is It True, Black Seventeen finished seventh in the 2008 Sentient Flight Group Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park.
Sharp will not be at Santa Anita for Conquest Titan's bid at Juvenile glory, but he will be watching.
"Mark (Casse) was excited with his last workout, and he feels he deserves the opportunity," said Sharp. "That's good enough for me. Mark doesn't just send horses for the sake of shipping. He sends them when he feels they have a legitimate shot. We'll be pulling for him."