01/25/2016 12:40PM

Conquest Big E all set for Holy Bull

Barbara D. Livingston
Conquest Big E makes his 3-year-old debut on Saturday in the Holy Bull.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – There were 11 “Conquest” horses on Sunday’s work tab at the Palm Meadows training center, including Conquest Big E, who will launch his 3-year-old campaign as one of the favorites in Saturday’s Grade 2 Holy Bull.

“If you thought there were a lot of Conquests on the work tab, wait until you see the entries this weekend,” quipped Mark Casse, who trains all those Conquest horses for one of his principal owners, Conquest Stables LLC.

Conquest Big E worked an easy half-mile in 49 seconds in his final major prep for the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull. Conquest Big E is a son of Tapit, who also sired the undefeated Mohaymen, the likely favorite in the Holy Bull.

Casse said Sunday’s drill was a “maintenance work” for Conquest Big E.

“We usually put in our big work a couple of weeks out, then come back with an easy breeze like this one, and he did it nicely, in company, going head to head with Kaigun,” Casse said.

Casse said he thought the local surface would be more conducive to Conquest Big E’s stalking style than to the late-running style of his other major Kentucky Derby prospect, Airoforce, who is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut Feb. 13 in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

“I’m not sure at this point who is going to be in the Holy Bull, but it doesn’t look like a whole lot of speed in there, and I think you’ll see Conquest Big E up near the lead,” said Casse. “That was the reason for our decision to run him here and Airoforce at Tampa. Airoforce is the kind of horse you’ve got to let settle and come with a big run, and that style is just not as effective at Gulfstream.”

Airoforce, whose only loss in four career starts was a neck setback in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, breezed four furlongs in 48 seconds at Palm Meadows on Monday, according to Casse, with his regular rider, Julien Leparoux, aboard.

“He’ll come back with a bigger work next week, and that will be the deciding factor on whether he goes to Tampa,” said Casse.

Two of the other Conquest horses who breezed Sunday, Conquest Daddyo and Conquest Bebop, also will run in stakes races Saturday at Gulfstream. Conquest Daddyo goes in the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy and Conquest Bebop in the $100,000 Sweetest Chant. Casse said he had originally planned on running Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Catch a Glimpse in the Sweetest Chant, but she got sick and missed a work. Casse plans to hold her out until the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride on Feb. 27. Catch a Glimpse also worked over the main track at Palm Meadows on Monday.

Casse sent out a pair of winners, Frosty Friday and Conquest Dynasty, on Sunday’s card.

◗ Two other potential Holy Bull starters worked on Sunday, Greenpointcrusader and Cherry Wine. Greenpointcrusader, the winner of the Grade 1 Champagne, went five furlongs at Palm Meadows in 1:02, while Cherry Wine, an impressive allowance winner here earlier this month, completed the same distance from the half-mile pole in 1:00.96 at Gulfstream Park.

Trainer Dale Romans said Monday that he is leaning toward running Cherry Wine in the Holy Bull but might wait for the Fountain of Youth here Feb. 27.