From the moment My Conquestadory burst through the gate for Friday's Grade I Darley Alcibiades Stakes, the excuses for why she should have departed Keeneland with her first loss piled one on top of another.
There was the squeeze and check after the start, the repeated steadying down the backstretch and the fact there appeared to be no daylight as jockey Eurico Da Silva searched for a way to free his mount from her trap along the rail.
It takes some kind of juvenile filly to make her career debut against males in graded stakes company, however, as My Conquestadory did last month. Once she and Da Silva found the tiniest of openings, the 15,391 in attendance were treated to the clinic she put on in the stretch.
All the typical reasons for defeat didn't apply to My Conquestadory on the opening day of Keeneland's Fall Meet as she angled out past Battlefield Angel entering the stretch and kicked clear for a remarkable 13/4-length win in the $400,000 Alcibiades.
Trainer Mark Casse tipped his hand on his level of confidence in the dark bay filly when he saddled her for the Grade II Summer Stakes at Woodbine first time out on Sept. 14, and then took home the hardware when she rolled to a 31/4-length win over the boys.
Casse's heart was admittedly in his throat soon after she broke as the 6-5 favorite Friday. The class she demonstrated as she rallied from next-to-last in the 12-horse field is the stuff that puts pulse readings off the charts.
"I was banging on my head, I wanted to throw up," said Casse, who also won last year's Alcibiades with Spring in the Air. "We've been fortunate over the years to have some pretty good horses and my thought was she was probably as good as any of them.
"We ran against the colts (first time) and she ran big. I know a lot of people said she didn't beat much the first time but no matter what she beats, for a 2-year-old to overcome what she overcame doesn't happen very often."
Having to steady a few strides out of the gate, My Conquestadory found herself in tight on the inside as Lil Honey Badger cleared the field and clicked off the opening fractions in :23.35 and :48.48.
Da Silva tried to advance his charge just past the half but was stymied by a wall of flesh before them. As the field approached the final turn and Lil Honey Badger began to weaken, My Conquestadory started picking her way between horses with precision and looked to have plenty of energy left as she crossed the finish in 1:45.61.
"I was waiting for a hole, and every time it opened up a bit, I put her in," Da Silva said. "In the stretch when we had free run, she just ran so easy."
Rosalind came up for second with Battlefield Angel another half-length back in third.
Though My Conquestadory has now qualified for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies as part of the "Win and You're In" program, Casse said he would probably take her to Churchill Downs and work her on the dirt before deciding if she goes there or the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
That she is bound for racing's World Championships is a freakish turn for owners Ernie Semersky and Dory Newell, who race under My Conquest Stables. The Chicago-based couple only got involved in the industry this past spring, purchasing My Conquestadory from Casse — who had bought her as a yearling — for $240,000 at the March 2-year-olds in training sale at Ocala, Fla.
"She doesn't like to lose and she's much faster than people realize," said Semersky, who added they currently have about 40 horses. "This one, we fell in love with her and she's earned up to the reputation."
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.