HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Daniel Hurtak’s Conquest Big E wired a field that included a pair of former Kentucky Derby favorites in Saturday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Hardacre Mile Stakes.
Breaking from the rail under Jose Batista, Conquest Big E quickly took command while 9-5 co-favorite Always Dreaming sat just to his outside through opening splits of :23.57 and :45.88. Conquest Big E began separating through the far turn and emerged onto the front stretch with a growing lead. Batista kept him to task down the stretch, with the 5-year-old gelded son of Tapit hitting the wire first by 3 lengths in a final time of 1:35.92 for the main track event at a mile’s distance.
“I just wanted to make sure I had a good break, relax the horse,” Batista said. “We went on and the horse responded, which made it easy.”
Always Dreaming held on to finish second by 1 1/2 lengths over his stablemate, Tommy Macho, himself a neck past Page McKenney for third. Mr. Jordan came in fifth, while the other co-favorite, Irish War Cry, never fired and was eased in the final furlong to the wire.
Conquest Big E improved his record to 20-5-2-1 with career earnings of $393,515 and gave his trainer her first graded stakes victory.
“He’s been having a little bit of a bad habit of hopping out of the gate, and it’s costing him a good position, which has cost him in the other two stakes races that he ran in,” said Donna Hurtak. “We did a little gate work with him, trying to get him out of the habit, and it’s great when you’re a trainer and things work because it’s not easy to get them out of bad habits. I’m very proud of him today.”
Conquest Big E returned $26.20 to win, $10 to place, and $4.40 to show. Always Dreaming brought back $4.40 to place and $3.20 to show, while Tommy Macho paid $2.80 to show.