All systems go for Conquest Titan in the Tampa Bay Derby

Conquest Titan Allowance 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire


When a field of 2014 Kentucky Derby hopefuls line up for the signature race at beautiful Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, my eyes will be squarely transfixed on one of two colts expected for the race from the Mark Casse barn, Conquest Titan. The trip to Tampa may be an audible for him, but it looks like a good one. 

What do you do when you have a closer preparing for the Kentucky Derby at a track that you really don’t think suits his style? You hit the road for the closest Kentucky Derby prep hosted by a track a little more friendly to a late runner, of course, and that is exactly what Casse is doing with Conquest Titan. The field has yet to be finalized, but the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby looks to be an excellent spot for the Conquest Stables owned sophomore. Keep in mind, though not the most prestigious Kentucky Derby prep out there, the Tampa Bay Derby has produced two Kentucky Derby winners in recent years, in Street Sense and Super Saver. 

There’s a long way to go before he has a chance to add his name to the list, but Conquest Titan has all the makings of a colt ready to give it a good run for the roses. When last seen, Conquest Titan was making a strong late run in the middle of the speed favoring main track at Gulfstream Park when second to Cairo Prince in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes five weeks ago. The effort also included a poor start in which he was rudely squeezed back. That performance was not only against the lay of the land, but was flattered when Intense Holiday, whom he outfinished for the place money, came back to win smartly in the Risen Star last week in New Orleans. That flattery has not go unnoticed by his trainer.

“The fact he ran past Intense Holiday in the stretch, and that he beat General a Rod at Churchill Downs says a lot,” said Casse. “They say you are judged by the company you keep, and he’s keeping good company.”

Casse mentions another reason I am liking Conquest Titan more and more as a serious Derby contender, in that mile allowance he won to close out his juvenile season. It was in that race over the Derby strip, on November 30, that a new running style was born for the colt bred to run all day, and then some. A winner of the seven furlong Swynford Stakes last year, and a dead tired pace setter in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the son of Birdstone-Miner’s Secret, by Mineshaft was 12th and last for the first half of the race before uncorking an eye-catching rally that carried him to an easy victory over the now highly regarded General a Rod.

“After the Breeders’ Cup, we took him back to Churchill because what we were doing was not working and I knew we had to come up with another plan, which was to get him to relax and come running,” Casse said. “We know him better now and Shaun [Bridgmohan] knows him better. He probably has one of the best turns of foot of any horse I’ve trained. When the rider pushes the gas pedal, he had better be tied on.”

That’s good enough for me, and it may be too much for his competition at the end of the week.

Chief among his rivals for the prized position in the Tampa Bay Derby is the only horse still with a chance to win the million dollar bonus awarded for a Sam F. Davis - Tampa Bay Derby - Kentucky Derby sweep, Vinceremos. A game winner of the first in the series, the son of Pioneerof The Nile has won two straight for trainer, Todd Pletcher, after running second in his debut. Pletcher will be looking for his second straight win in the Tampa Bay Derby, having saddled Verrazano to win last year’s running.

Other likely starters in the 8 ½ furlong affair on Saturday, include Surfing U S A, another dangerous option for Todd Pletcher, Casse’s other runner, Matador, Asserting Bear, from the Reade Baker barn, Coltimus Prime, and Hy Kodiak Warrior. 


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Older Comments about All systems go for Conquest Titan in the Tampa Bay Derby...

For a `worse`trainer (please look up the series bad, worse, worst) he certainally has a hiugh win percentage. He has won, easily, Woodbine for several years and his record in stakes races approaches record status.
Casse is one of the worse trainers in the country. Total mishandling of dynamic Sky last year. Conquest Titan will not make the gate on derby day.
Conquest Titan and Vinceremos
Better watch out for East Hall, he'll be coming to, with a good trip, he's there..
I like conquest titan in tampa bay derby and vnceremos coming in second
pedigree, pedigree, pedigree.. thats all i have to say about Conquest Titan. but lets not forget about Surfing USA.
another prep races that will be fun to watch...anxious to see the complete entrants and pp's.
I like Vinceremos for the Sam F. Davis-Tampa Bay Derby double. That's before 'capping, but I think he can do it.
If Titan can pull of a win here, I'm hoping his connections take him to the Wood memorial next and he can follow the same path as Verrazano took to the Derby. Samraat and Uncle Sigh look ripe to be chased down with the extra 1/16th of a mile.
Somehow i do not think that the Wiiner of this race will have as significant say in the Upcoming T.C. races. The good thing is that at least 1 lucky owner will get credited with a Graded Stakes win. Beyond that ,it is a major stretch.I do not mean distance either.
I think Hy Kodiak warrior could win. If Surfing U.S.A. wins it will make TB look even better
Yes, they said day-to-day for Bond Holder on Saturday, and then last night, they announced he's still out.
Preliminary like: Surfing USA.
BTW - Bond Holder will miss the Tampa Bay Derby AND a few more weeks of training per Doug O'Neill.
I still have a bad taste in my mouth from last year's Tampa Bay Derby when backing Casse's Dynamic Sky, who hung in the stretch.Leaning towards Hy Kodiak Warrior prior to any serious capping and official entries.
I can't wait to see this race. On paper it seems like a fairly easy spot for Conquest Titan to pick up the points needed to get to the Kentucky Derby. On the other hand I can’t wait to see if Coltimus Prime can handle dirt and a lay off. If so, he has an interesting pedigree and might be able to shake things up on the Derby trail. Who knows what Bond Holder might do.

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