Conduit takes down another Turf trophy
Ballymacoll Stud's homebred CONDUIT (Ire) (Dalakhani) thwarted Presious Passion's (Royal Anthem) gallant attempt to wire Saturday's $2,727,000 Breeders' Cup Turf (G1), reeling in the longtime leader in deep stretch to defend his title successfully. On the heels of Presious Passion's ferocious fractions, Conduit blazed 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:23 3/5, just off the stakes record of 2:23 2/5 he posted last year. The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Conduit thereby joins High Chaparral (Ire) (2002-03) as the only two-time winners of the Breeders' Cup Turf.
As expected, Presious Passion sprinted straight to the front and opened up a long lead through splits of :23, :45, 1:09 1/5 and 1:34 2/5. Spanish Moon (El Prado [Ire]), Conduit's stablemate, settled in second, with the filly Dar Re Mi (GB) (Singspiel [Ire]) also forwardly placed in the pack. Conduit gradually crept forward on the backstretch, and as the field closed in on Presious Passion on the far turn, the defending champion was perfectly poised to strike.
Under a shrewd but daring maneuver by regular rider Ryan Moore, Conduit knifed his way between Dar Re Mi and Spanish Moon turning into the stretch and took aim on Presious Passion. The front runner was still in full flight, and threatening to lead from flag-fall to finish, but Conduit was bearing down on the outside. The 4-5 favorite got up by a half-length at the wire, returning $3.80, $3 and $2.20.
"I was stuck behind a lot of horses early, but that didn't worry me," Moore said. "I got a nice spot down the backside and I went inside to move up. Last year went about as planned, but this year wasn't according to plan. I knew I was going to get there."
"It's always a big day for the world championship," said Stoute, who was winning his fourth Turf and fifth Breeders' Cup title overall. "It's a very important race and it was great to see him go and do it two in a row. We're also pleased with the fourth horse Spanish Moon."
Presious Passion held second by 1 1/4 lengths, and the nearly 6-1 fourth choice in the seven-horse field gave back $5 and $3.80.
"The horse didn't want to relax," jockey Elvis Trujillo said of Presious Passion. "The first part was a little fast. I know this horse very good. He fights. Doesn't matter how fast we go. The last quarter he'll fight everybody. It's tough to build a big lead like that and try to hold on. Even when he (Conduit) came up to me I thought I was going to win. The other horse just got past me in the last sixteenth."
"I thought he ran his race," trainer Mary Hartmann said of Presious Passion. "He laid it all on the line and he just got caught. He fought back. He just doesn't like to let them go by."
Dar Re Mi crossed the wire 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Spanish Moon and paid $3 as the 5-1 third choice.
"She ran a great race," trainer John Gosden said of Dar Re Mi. "It was a little tight from the quarter-pole but that is racing. She ran absolutely great. The first two -- well you know what they are -- they are fantastic horses. It was a real race. She ran great against the colts and older horses. I couldn't be more pleased."
Spanish Moon was unable to capitalize on his good early position and faded to fourth. Red Rocks (Ire) (Galileo [Ire]), the 2006 Turf winner who was taking part in the race for the fourth straight time, wound up fifth in his swan song and was trailed by Monzante (Maria's Mon) and Telling (A.P. Indy). Allegre (Orientate) was withdrawn Thursday after developing an abscess in his right front foot.
Conduit, who earned an Eclipse Award as champion turf horse after plundering last year's edition, has compiled a record of 14-7-2-3 with an impressive $5,376,913 in earnings. The winner of the 2008 St. Leger (Eng-G1) and Gordon S. (Eng-G3), the four-year-old just missed in the Brigadier Gerard S. (Eng-G3) in his 2009 debut. After finishing a distant third to Sea the Stars and Rip Van Winkle (Ire) (Galileo [Ire]) in the Eclipse S. (Eng-G1), Conduit next added the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. (Eng-G1) to his resume. In so doing, Conduit became the first St Leger hero to land the King George since Alcide in 1959.
Stoute rested him since that late July triumph, with a view toward a title defense in the Turf. Conduit returned in the October 4 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-G1) and rallied for an honorable fourth, an effort that set him up perfectly for the Breeders' Cup.
Out of the unraced Sadler's Wells mare Well Head, the Irish-bred colt is a half-brother to English Group 2 winner Hard Top (Ire) (Darshaan). Well Head is herself a half-sister to Spectrum (Rainbow Quest), hero of the 1995 Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-G1) and Champion S. (Eng-G1), and Stream of Gold (Ire) (Rainbow Quest), victor of the 2008 Mac Diarmida H. (G2). Conduit hails from the stellar family of multiple English and Irish highweight Petrushka (Ire) (Unfuwain), 2000 St Leger hero Millenary (Rainbow Quest), and English and French champion filly Sun Princess (English Prince).
Conduit could line up next in the November 29 Japan Cup (Jpn-G1), but Stoute was not ready to commit just yet.
"It could be on his agenda, but we want to get him back home and have a close look at him for about 10 days until we make a decision on Tokyo. We would like to go there, but it depends on how he comes through this return journey and the race."
Plans call for Conduit to enter stud next year in Japan at Shigeyuki Okada's Big Red Farm, which purchased him prior to his repeat score in the Turf.
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