01/31/2015 7:06PM

Conquest Two Step wins first career stakes in Palos Verdes

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Benoit & Associates
Joe Talamo collects his third of four winners on Saturday's card aboard Conquest Two Step in the Palos Vercdes.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Conquest Two Step has grown up nicely following a two-month break last fall.

After finishing second to Shared Belief in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, Conquest Two Step won the first stakes of his career in Saturday’s $200,250 Palos Verdes Stakes at six furlongs.

Conquest Two Step ($13) was timed in 1:08.10, beating four graded stakes winners in Secret Circle, Wild Dude, Distinctiv Passion, and Big Macher, as well as the longshot Chief Lion.

The time was the fastest six furlongs of the meeting, which began Dec. 26.

Conquest Two Step was ridden by Joe Talamo, his third of four winners on the card. Talamo had an ideal trip on the 4-year-old Conquest Two Step, who races for Conquest Stables and trainer Mark Casse. Talamo had Conquest Two Step in fourth after a quarter-mile in 21.21 seconds, racing about six lengths behind Distinctiv Passion, Big Macher, and Secret Circle.

“When those three hooked up, we had a perfect trip,” Talamo said.

Conquest Two Step was third with a quarter-mile remaining and second with a furlong to go. He caught the stretch leader Secret Circle in the final sixteenth to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Secret Circle, the winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2013, finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of Wild Dude, who won the 2014 Palos Verdes.

Distinctiv Passion, the winner of the Grade 3 Midnight Lute Stakes here Dec. 27, faded to finish fourth, 3 1/2 lengths behind Big Macher, the winner of the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar last summer. Big Macher was second to the turn but faded through the stretch. He still finished clear of the 44-1 shot Chief Lion.

Conquest Two Step was the 5-1 fourth choice in a field of six. The price did not surprise Casse, considering the depth of the field.

“I understand why people want to see two in a row,” he said. “Things set up nicely for him. I was smiling pretty big on the backside.”

Conquest Two Step has won 3 of 10 starts and earned $309,408. He was second in the Colin Stakes at Woodbine as a 2-year-old in 2013 and third in the El Cajon Stakes at Del Mar last August. Conquest Two Step won an optional claimer on the hillside turf course here in late October and did not start again until a neck loss to Shared Belief in the Malibu.