08/19/2017 4:48PM

Conquest Panthera surges in final strides of Play the King

Michael Burns
Conquest Panthera paid $18.20 in winning the Play the King Stakes at Woodbine on Saturday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Conquest Panthera ($18.20) collared the speedy Dowse’s Beach in the final strides to take the $176,750 Play the King Stakes under Patrick Husbands at Woodbine on Saturday.

The Grade 2 event was marred by the passing of the popular Calgary Cat, who collapsed shortly after the race. A 7-year-old gelding who was trained by Kevin Attard, Calgary Cat was Canada’s champion male sprinter in 2014.

Dowse’s Beach set moderate splits over firm turf in the seven-furlong sprint. Conquest Panthera rallied three-wide into contention exiting the turn, and then wore down Dowse’s Beach in the last furlong to prevail by a neck, in a time of 1:21.20.

Glenville Gardens, last year’s Play the King winner, closed for third. He was followed by Tower of Texas, Tombelaine, Hootenanny, and Calgary Cat.

Conquest Panthera earned $105,000 in his first stakes victory for owner Gary Barber and trainer Mark Casse.

“This was the first time I got on him. He did everything right,” Husbands said. “He was relaxed, and just took me for a nice little journey. I was watching (Dowse’s Beach) down on the inside. When I swung for home, I had so much horse, so I was biding time. When I gave him his head, he started getting (to Dowse’s Beach). From looking at the form, his only two bad races were when he ran long.”