TORONTO, ON – Gary Barber’s Conquest Panthera made a determined move down the stretch late to power past Dowse’s Beach and capture Saturday’s Grade 2, $175,000 Play the King Stakes at Woodbine.
The Mark Casse-trained 5-year-old gelding settled midpack under jockey Patrick Husbands while pacesetter Dowse’s Beach cut through splits of :23.11, :45.94, and 1:09.60.
Exiting the far turn, Dowse’s Beach appeared to hold off his rivals down the stretch, but just after reaching the 6-furlong marker, Conquest Panthera was able to rally up alongside and put his nose across the wire first, completing the 7-furlong turf sprint in 1:21.72.
“By the time the gates fly, he was relaxing,” said Husbands, who also won the 2014 edition of the Play the King Stakes with Kaigun for the same connections. “He was just taking me for a nice little journey, so I was happy.”
Glenville Gardens was able to move along late for third, edging out Tower of Texas. Tombelaine and Hootenanny faded to fifth and sixth, respectively, after closely trailing Dowse’s Beach through the far turn. Calgary Cat was never a factor and finished seventh. We Deer You was scratched.
It was the first career graded stakes win for Conquest Panthera after never finishing better than third in five previous tries. The victory improved his record to 10-4-0-3.
“The only two bad races from looking at the form were when he went long,” Husbands said. “You take away that, he had two Grade 1 races there and he didn’t get beat far. He showed that he was the best horse today.”
Conquest Panthera returned $18.20 to win, $9.40 to place, and $5.20 to show. Dowse’s Beach brought back $6.20 to place and $4.20 to show, while Glenville Gardens paid $6.50 to show.