Conquest Two Step and Joe Talamo take the Palos Verdes Stakes.

Conquest Two Step and Joe Talamo take the Palos Verdes Stakes.

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Conquest Two Step Surprises in Palos Verdes

Conquest Stables' 4-year-old benefits from hot pace to register first stakes victory.

Benefiting from a sizzling early speed duel, Conquest Two Step rallied through the lane to take the $200,250 Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II) over Secret Circle  from Santa Anita Park Jan. 31 (VIDEO).

Racing in fourth early on in the six-furlong contest about five lengths off the pace, 11-2 shot Conquest Two Step came rolling under a well-timed ride from Joe Talamo to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths, giving the 4-year-old colt his first stakes win in a sharp time of 1:08.10.

The son of Two Step Salsa , trained by Mark Casse for Conquest Stables, signaled his readiness for the big effort with a runner-up finish by a neck to champion Shared Belief in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) going seven furlongs Dec. 26.

A six-horse field tackled the Palos Verdes. Favored Distinctiv Passion, Big Macher and Secret Circle all battled for the early lead through blazing fractions of :21.21 and :43.54 for the half-mile, setting it up for Conquest Two Step's winning move. Rallying on the far outside Conquest Two Step took the lead near the sixteenth pole under left-handed urging from Talamo.

"I was very happy to see three horses in a speed duel," Talamo said. "I just stayed outside and he wasn't even getting any dirt in his face. What a race he ran. We were high on his last race, when he ran second to Shared Belief and I know  a lot of people thought it was a fluke but he really ran that same race again today."

Secret Circle, the winner of the 2013 Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), ran well in defeat, lasting to be a clear second by 2 1/4 lengths over the late moving Wild Dude, who won the Palos Verdes in 2014.

Distinctiv Passion weakened to fourth after being pressured from the rail into the stretch, and was followed out by Big Macher and Chief Lion.

"They set it up nice for him," Casse said of the win. "I was smiling pretty big down the backside (at the fractions) watching those three go at it. I thought he was a big price based on his last effort, but I understand everybody likes to see two in a row. I kind of like it myself. When they run a big race, you want to see them come back and do it again."

Conquest Two Step was bred in Florida by Manuel Andrade out of the dam Homesteader, by Pioneering. The dark bay colt was purchased at the April 2013 Ocala Breeding Sale for $420,000 by owners Ernie Semersky and Dory Newel, who race as Conquest Stables.

It was just the third win from 10 career starts for Conquest Two Step, who also has five seconds and one third. He has earned $309,408.

Conquest Two Step broke his maiden in his debut June 21, 2013 at Churchill Downs, but then dropped his next six starts before taking an optional claiming race on the grass at Santa Anita last October. He was 72-1 against Shared Belief in his next start in the Malibu.

Conquest Two Step returned $13 to win, $5.40 to place and $3.20 to show. Secret Circle returned $4 to place and $3 to show, while Wild Dude paid $3 to show.