HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The consistent Conquest Daddyo will face six rivals this Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes going a mile on the turf.
Trained by Mark Casse for owner Conquest Stables, the son of Scat Daddy will be making his first start since finishing fourth in the $1-million Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Keeneland on October 30. Conquest Daddyo arrived at Palm Meadows Training Center shortly after that contest and has recorded six timed workouts since, including a half-mile move in :48 seconds on Sunday.
“He’s been training really well,” Casse said. “We’re anxious to get him back, even though it might be a touch short for him. But he ran well in the Breeders’ Cup, so maybe the mile will be all right for him.”
After being forwardly placed in his first two career starts on Woodbine’s Polytrack surface, the Ontario-bred colt rallied from seventh to win his turf debut in the $200,000 Summer Stakes (G2) at the same track in September. He was last in the early stages of the one-mile Juvenile Turf, but closed strongly to be fourth, beaten just three lengths for the win. Jockey Joe Bravo was aboard for both of those turf starts and has the call again in the Kitten’s Joy.
“That’s his style,” Casse said about his charge’s tendency to start in an unhurried fashion.
Conquest Daddyo, a $350,000 yearling purchase at Saratoga, will break from the outside in post seven.
Alto Racing’s Azar, another son of Scat Daddy, will also be making his first appearance since the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, where he finished a troubled 13th in a 14-horse field. The Todd Pletcher trainee graduated from the maiden ranks with a determined effort in the $200,000 With Anticipation Stakes (G2) at Saratoga prior to being second in a blanket finish in the $200,000 Pilgrim Stakes (G3) at Belmont on September 26. In the Breeders’ Cup, Azar raced in midpack, but was bumped soundly at the top of the stretch and found himself in traffic thereafter. Pletcher, the 12-time leading trainer at the Championship Meet, believes the colt is ready to put that showing behind him.
“Azar has done really well since the Breeders’ Cup,” he said. “He’s grown, gained weight and trained with enthusiasm. We’re looking forward to getting his year started.”
Azar, drawn in post four, will have jockey John Velazquez in the irons.
Life Imitates Art, who crossed the line second in each of his first four starts for trainer Chad Brown, put it all together last time in the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream on January 2. After saving ground in the early stages of that 7 1/2-furlong test, the More Than Ready colt dashed through between rivals under jockey Joel Rosario and out-gamed Isotherm to the wire.
Owned Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence, Life Imitates Art will be ridden again by Rosario in the Kitten’s Joy, where he will start from post six.
Don’t Be So Salty will likely be the speed of the Kitten’s Joy. The Florida-bred son of Tiz Wonderful has two wire-to-wire victories to his credit, including a game win in the $125,000 Display Stakes on the Polytrack at Woodbine on November 29. Gary Contessa conditions the 3-year-old gelding for owners Platinum Seven, Dan Guarino and Julia Boutelle. Drawn in post three, Don’t Be So Salty will be ridden by leading jockey Javier Castellano.
Locally based J R’s Holiday has transformed since switching to turf in his fourth start for trainer Jose Garoffalo and owner JR Racing. A 6 1/4-length maiden winner over this course in September, the Harlan’s Holiday colt was beaten 3/4 of a length when third in the Armed Forces Stakes on October 3, and most recently put forth a bold rally to prevail in an allowance test on the Gulfstream grass on December 13. J R’s Holiday will be ridden by Emisael Jaramillo and has post two.
Little Mo, who finished a length behind J R’s Holiday in fourth before being disqualified to fifth, will also contest the Kitten’s Joy. Owned by Little Dreams Racing and Stephen Screnci, the Carlo Vaccarezza trainee was previously a debut winner on the turf at Gulfstream Park West on November 14. With Luis Saez in the irons, Little Mo will break from post five.
The Kitten’s Joy field is completed by Shoot Craps, who will break from the rail for trainer Dane Kobiskie and owner PTK LLC. Recent Eclipse Award winner Tyler Gaffalione has the mount.
Source: Gulfstream Park