The 6-year-old Stormy Atlantic gelding led a charge of Peter Miller trainees down the hill and through the stretch of the turf sprint and held off stablemates Stormy Liberal and Calculator to claim his first graded stakes victory.
Conquest Tsunami was stabled at San Luis Rey Downs when the Lilac Fire devastated the area Dec. 7 and was actually believed to have perished before he was found alive. He claimed his second consecutive win since the tragedy after returning to the races Jan. 20 at Santa Anita with an allowance score.
Jockey Victor Espinoza hustled Conquest Tsunami to the early lead in the Daytona, and the bay runner willingly set fractions of :21.99, :44.09, and 1:06.14 before he kicked clear through the lane under a brisk hand ride. The final time for about 6 1/2 furlongs was 1:12.03 on a course rated firm.
"There was just one way to go," said Espinoza, who was aboard the gelding for the first time. "I broke in front and kept my position all the way to the wire. 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. 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 ... but he was much the best today."
Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) winner Stormy Liberal gave chase throughout in his season debut for Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen but could not close the gap and settled for second by 2 1/2 lengths. It was 1 1/4 lengths back to Richard Pell's Calculator, the 9-5 favorite in a field of seven.
"Unbelievable. They all showed up, they got three great rides, and we've got three great owners," Miller said. "This race kind of went to plan. Maybe Stormy Liberal was a little further back than I would have liked, but for his first race since Hong Kong (an 11th-place finish in the group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint Dec. 10), I thought he ran well. All three of them ran super."
Conquest Tsunami went off at odds of 5-1 and returned $12.40, $5.80, and $3.20. Stormy Liberal paid $3.60 and $2.40, and Calculator returned $2.40. Tombelaine, Perfectly Majestic, What a View, and Fabozzi completed the order of finish.
Bred in Ontario by Josham Farms Limited and Yvonne Schwabe Thoroughbreds out of the El Corredor mare Classic Neel, Conquest Tsumani was a $190,000 purchase by Conquest Stables from Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency's consignment to the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale. He began his career for Conquest and trainer Mark Casse with four straight wins in 2014, including the Victoria Stakes and Colin Stakes at Woodbine, and he also won the 2014 Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs that season.
Sidelined for much of 2015, Conquest Tsunami returned to the races in 2016 with a single allowance victory before he was sold as part of the Conquest dispersal through the Lane's End consignment at the 2016 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, where TM Investments signed the ticket for $140,000. He did not win in 2017 while still with Casse's string, but he is perfect in two starts for Miller this season.
The Daytona victory improved the winner's record to 22-8-2-2 and increased his earnings to $503,066.