ARCADIA, Calif. — Trainer Mark Casse still marvels as the adversity My Conquestadory shunned during her victory in the Grade I Darley Alcibiades earlier this month — so much so that he's going to give the daughter of Artie Schiller a chance to overcome a major sticking point in Friday's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
When Ernie Semersky's filly drew the outside No. 14 post for the one-mile turf race, Casse seriously considered scratching My Conquestadory and forgoing her chances at year-end divisional honors.
In what was just her second career start, My Conquestadory overcame several issues in the Alcibiades that would have caused many a green juvenile to chuck in the towel, steadying more than once down the backstretch after getting squeezed at the start but still surging from tenth to first for a 13/4-length triumph.
"Had she not done that, we probably would be passing for sure," Casse said. "She's shown she can handle adversity, although this is a much tougher field. In any race, you have to have things go your way, and hopefully things go our way. If they go our way, she should have a good chance of winning and if she does, she does, and if she doesn't she doesn't. That's why they call it horse racing."
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In the past 29 editions of the Breeders' Cup, five race winners have come out of post No. 14.
My Conquestadory and Juvenile contender Conquest Titan, also owned by Semerksy each galloped 11/2 miles Tuesday morning.
"Conquest Titan is a horse who we always thought is one of the best 2-year-olds we've had," said Casse. "He's trained as good as any horse we have over at Churchill."
Princess takes to track
Though she went to the track under the early-morning cover of darkness, leading 3-year-old filly Princess of Sylmar still made a huge impression in her first trip over the Santa Anita track Tuesday.
The daughter of Majestic Warrior put in what trainer Todd Pletcher called an "enthusiastic gallop" in advance of her start in Friday's Breeders' Cup Distaff.
"I was really pleased with the way she came in. I mean her energy level was outstanding this morning, she marched to the track like she'd been here every day," Pletcher said. "She was on her A game today."
Since her then-upset win in the Kentucky Oaks, Princess of Sylmar has owned the 3-year-old filly division and then some, winning the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama Stakes before defeating two-time defending Distaff winner Royal Delta in the Grade I Beldame Stakes on Sept. 28.
Depending on how Saturday's $5 million Classic shakes out, a win in the Distaff could put Princess of Sylmar in the hunt for Horse of the Year honors.
"If she wins again and some other things happen. ... I think you could make a very strong case for that," Pletcher said.
Verrazano, Paynter set for career finales
Grade I winner Verrazano and Paynter are both set to be retired and enter stud in 2014, their respective connections announced Tuesday.
Verrazano, the morning-line favorite for the Dirt Mile, will stand at Ashford Stud next year with Classic entrant Paynter headed to WinStar Farm at year's end.