12/22/2016 11:56AM

Conquest Enforcer looks to provide quick return in Mathis Brothers Mile

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Chelsea Durand/NYRA
Conquest Enforcer's last victory came in the Allied Forces Stakes at Belmont in September.

ARCADIA, Calif. – A month has passed since the multiple stakes winner Conquest Enforcer arrived from the East at trainer Phil D’Amato’s stable in California. Through that time, expectations for the colt have grown.

“I’m excited to run him,” D’Amato said. “He’s training like a good horse.”

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Conquest Enforcer was purchased for $785,000 at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale last month by Ron Paolucci, who owns the colt in a partnership. The owners can recover a chunk of the investment when Conquest Enforcer has his California debut in a tough running of the $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile on Monday at Santa Anita.

The Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile is for 3-year-olds going a mile on turf and includes the stakes winners Defiantly, Frank Conversation, Isotherm, and Path of David.

KEY CONTENDERS

Conquest Enforcer, by Into Mischief

Last 3 Beyers: 96-96-93

◗ Conquest Enforcer won four stakes for Conquest Stables and trainer Mark Casse. Conquest Enforcer was sold as part of a dispersal last month.

◗ Conquest Enforcer has won at distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, often racing on or near the lead. He was third as the 9-5 favorite in the Grade 2 Nearctic Stakes at six furlongs on turf Oct. 16 at Woodbine in his last start.

◗ D’Amato is hopeful Conquest Enforcer will be patient for jockey Flavien Prat on Monday.

“The race should set up well,” D’Amato said. “I don’t think there is a lot of speed. I’ve set him behind horses in his works and he’s gone past them.”

Tusk, by Tapit

Last 3 Beyers: 84-72-72

◗ Tusk has not started since finishing second in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby on the synthetic surface at Golden Gate Fields last February. He underwent surgery on an ankle following that race and has been in training in Maryland and at Santa Anita for trainer Graham Motion.

“It might seem to be an ambitious race to come back in, but it’s the last chance to run against 3-year-olds,” Motion said. “He had most of the summer off. He’s worked well for this. He’s always been a good work horse, and I think he’s more mature than he was in the spring.

“He looked like he could have been a serious 3-year-old. I like the comeback distance.”

Frank Conversation, by Quality Road

Last 3 Beyers: 98-94-79

◗ Frank Conversation, who won the El Camino Real Derby, thrived on turf through the fall. Trained by Doug O’Neill, Frank Conversation won the Grade 2 Twilight Derby at 36-1 here Nov. 4 and was third, beaten two lengths, in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on Dec. 3 at Del Mar.

“He’s a tough horse,” O’Neill said. “In his last two, he’s settled and come from off the pace. I think he fits this.”

Blackjackcat, by Tale of the Cat

Last 3 Beyers: 96-93-89

◗ Blackjackcat has run in four derbies since Labor Day weekend, including a half-length loss in the Twilight Derby.

◗ He figures to race near the front.