Welcome back to “Diamonds in the Rough!” After chronicling the results of the best two-year-old races at Saratoga and Del Mar this summer, it’s time to resume the series by recapping the results of all the great juvenile races at Keeneland this fall!
We’ll start off by recapping a pair of exciting maiden races that were held on opening day. Both races were a mile and a sixteenth in distance, and both were won by horses that appeared poised to have an impact on the road to the 2016 Kentucky Derby…
Keeneland Race 3: Maiden Special Weight
8.5 furlongs on dirt
Conquest Big E was favored off a runner-up effort on September 11th at Churchill, and the son of Tapit delivered with a big performance. With Shaun Bridgmohan in the saddle, the Mark Casse-trained colt got off to a bit of a slow start and was caught 4-5 wide throughout while tracking the pace, but nevertheless rallied to take command at the eighth pole and draw off through a final sixteenth of a mile in 6.30 seconds to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Impressive! The final time was a solid 1:44.42 over a sloppy, sealed track. Deep in a Dream, trained by Wesley Ward, tracked the pace in second place but couldn’t match Conquest Big E’s finishing speed in the homestretch and thus took home the runner-up award, while My Chennai Express carved out fractions of :24.04, :47.98, and 1:12.88 before tiring to finish third, four lengths behind Deep in a Dream.
Keeneland Race 5: Maiden Special Weight
8.5 furlongs on dirt
Mark Casse completed a sweep of the two juvenile races on opening day when he sent out Conquest Windycity to win this maiden special weight in game fashion. Coming off of a respectable fourth-place finish in the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill, Conquest Windycity–like Conquest Big E–had a wide trip on Friday, but was able to stay within hailing range of a strong pace before rallying to a clear lead in the homestretch and holding off a late challenge from Donegal Moon to win by 1 3/4 lengths. However, the final time of 1:46.58 was a bit more than two seconds slower than Conquest Big E ran earlier on the card. Donegal Moon tracked the pace while racing three-wide and and fought on well in the homestretch when passed by Conquest Windycity to finish a clear-cut second, while Nick Zito’s Vilma rallied mildly from sixth to finish third at odds of 28-1.
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