Conquest Panthera and jockey Patrick Husbands collared the front-running Dowse’s Beach just before the finish line to win the $175,000 Play the King Stakes (Gr. 2) featured on Saturday afternoon at Woodbine Racetrack.
Owned by Gary Barber and trained by Mark Casse, Conquest Panthera prevailed in 1:21.20 in the seven furlong turf stakes event for horses three years old and up.
Dowse’s Beach and Rafael Hernandez established the lead out of the gate and raced on top through fractions of :23.14 and :45.75 before a three-wide Conquest Panthera made his bid turning for home. Conquest Panthera confronted Dowe’s Beach down the stretch and duelled ahead to defeat that rival by a neck.
“By the time the gates fly, he was relaxing. He was just taking me for a nice little journey so I was happy,” said Husbands, who also won the 2014 edition of the Play the King Stakes with Kaigun for the same connections.
Bred in Kentucky by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, the five-year-old Kitten’s Joy-Lastofthsummerwine gelding earned his fourth win from 10 career starts and boosted his earnings over $270,000.
“The only two bad races from looking at the form were when he went long,” noted Husbands. “You take away that, he had two Grade 1 races there and he didn’t get beat far. He showed that he was the best horse today.”
Defending champion Glenville Gardens, with David Moran subbing in for Gary Boulanger, came through for third.
Calgary Cat, a multiple graded stakes winner and 2014 Sovereign Award winning sprinter, collapsed and passed away following the race.
Conquest Panthera paid $18.20, $9.40 and $5.20. He combined with Dowse’s Beach ($6.20, $4.20) for a 7-3 exactor worth $99.80. A 7-3-4 triactor (Glenville Gardens, $6.50) paid $346.90 and a $1 superfecta of 7-3-4-5 (Tower of Texas) returned $1,447.90.