By Dick Downey
After debtating the matter back and forth, trainer Mark Casse has decided to withhold Holy Bull Stakes runner-up Conquest Titan from the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth and point him to the Florida Derby on March 29.
Casse, who will saddle Coastline in today’s Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, said Conquest Titan is a little light after his big effort on Jan. 25. He breezed five furlongs at Palm Meadows a week ago last Saturday but wasn't on the worktab this past weekend. Casse said Conquest Titan will work again later this week.
“We’re going to pass on it,” Casse said. “His last race, he came out of it good, but I thought he lost a few pounds. He worked really well last week and he trained great this morning, but we can’t make all the dances. We’re just going to wait for the Florida Derby.”
After the Holy Bull, Casse initially said he might ship Conquest Titan to another venue that might better fit his stretch-running style. Later he said he'd stay put for the Fountain of Youth.
“He’s not a big horse, anyway,” Casse said. “He’s just kind of an average-sized horse, and the Fountain of Youth is going to come up tough. We’re always at a disadvantage with him going a mile and a sixteenth, especially with a speed-favoring track.... We just decided to wait and go straight to the Florida Derby. We shipped him all the way down to Gulfstream and schooled him, and he got a little nervous and hot, and I wanted him to relax a little bit. That was probably the biggest factor. I just want him to relax a little bit more than what he’s doing.”