Conquest Warrior Lives Up To His Name In 'Rising Star' Graduation

Conquest Warrior | Lauren King


Despite enduring a season's worth of trouble in Saturday's ninth race maiden at Gulfstream, Courtlandt Farm's Conquest Warrior (c, 3, City of Light–Tea Time, by Pulpit) snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and with it, became yet another 'TDN Rising Star' for his Lane's End-based sire in jaw-dropping fashion.

Pinched back badly and pinballed around in the opening strides, the $1-million Keeneland September graduate was relegated to a detached last early on, but began to improve his position and finally entered the picture as they passed the half-mile marker in :46.84. Committed to an inside run around the turn, the 7-2 chance–a debut third to big-figure El Capi (Maclean's Music) at Aqueduct Dec. 2–was traveling very strongly beneath Jose Ortiz, but found himself in a jackpot while stuck behind horses at the quarter pole and Ortiz was forced to snatch up, with just a furlong and a half ahead of him to try to make up for lost time. Finally pulled out into the clear with a furlong to race, the colt steamed down the middle of the track and grabbed Centennial Farms' Antiquarian (Preservationist)–who raced prominently throughout in a debut that was promising in its own right–for a highly improbable victory.

“I was surprised he broke the way he did. I knew he'd be back and then finish,” McGaughey said. “I was surprised by the effort he put in today with the trip he had for a young horse.”

The conditioner won't be rushing Conquest Warrior into stakes company right away and will seek out a first-level allowance, he said.

Conquest Warrior's dam raced for the partnership of the late Jon and Sarah Kelly and Helen Groves and made 18 starts from ages two to five for trainer Michael Matz, earning her first stakes win at two before following up with a pair of added-money tallies at three. She retired with five wins and four minor placings for earnings of just shy of $280,000.

Acquired by Betz Thoroughbreds for $250,000 in foal to Union Rags at Keeneland November in 2019, Tea Time is out of Asian Empress, a full-sister to GISW Acoma and kin to five other winners, including GISW sire Arch, MSW Alisios and UAE Group 3 winner Festival of Light. This is also the family of multiple champion Covfefe (Into Mischief) and the closely related Japanese MGSW/G1SP Albiano (Harlan's Holiday). Conquest Warrior's fourth dam is champion Althea (Alydar).

Don Adam's operation bought the Union Rags filly that Tea Time was carrying in 2019, Soul Play, for $200,000 at KEESEP in 2021, and the mare is also responsible for the 2-year-old colt Brodeur (Nyquist)–a $110,000 purchase by co-breeder D J Stable. She is due to Justify this season.

Conquest Warrior is the second 'Rising Star' in two weeks for City of Light, whose son Crimson Light turned in an equally unlikely debut success at Aqueduct Jan. 7. Among City of Light's three other 'Rising Stars' is champion-elect and GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile hero Fierceness, who also has a second dam by Belmont winner Empire Maker.

9th-Gulfstream, $70,000, Msw, 1-13, 3yo, 1m, 1:38.57, ft, 1/2 length.
CONQUEST WARRIOR, c, 3, by City of Light
1st Dam: Tea Time (MSW, $279,966), by Pulpit
2nd Dam: Asian Empress, by Empire Maker
3rd Dam: Aurora, by Danzig
Sales history: $1,000,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 2-1-0-1, $52,200. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV. Click for the catalog-style pedigree.

O-Courtlandt Farms (Donald Adam); B-Betz/B&K Canetti/J Betz/CoCo Equine/D J Stables (KY); T-Claude R McGaughey III.


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