By Sarah Mace
Alfonso Cammarota’s lightly-raced sophomore filly Conquest Hardcandy (Candy Ride) joined the stakes winner’s club Saturday with a gate-to-wire victory over nine rivals in Gulfstream Park’s one-mile, $100,000 Sanibel Island Stakes.
As her name implies, the bay filly got where she is today by way of the Conquest Stables dispersal at last year’s Keeneland November sale. Originally a graduate of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale, where she went to GBP for $100,000, Conquest Hardcandy was purchased by Conquest Stables for $150,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale. After running once for Conquest and Mark Casse (an unplaced debut effort on May 2), she was picked up by trainer Antonio Sano for $40,000 at Keeneland.
Springing eagerly out of post one at odds of 8-1 under Edgard Zayas Saturday, Conquest Hardcandy staked her claim to the front, establishing a half-length lead over speedy 24-1 longshot Fancy Kitten. Meanwhile 2-1 favorite Happy Mesa pursued in fourth in the two path.
Conquest Hardcandy traveled the backstretch under a snug hold, as Zayas tried to ration her speed. As it turned out, the filly was going to need to have something in reserve.
Happy Mesa advanced into second and loomed with a serious challenge at the top of the stretch. Both fillies were determined and dug in, battling to the wire, but, in the end, Conquest Hardcandy simply refused to be passed and secured the victory by a neck. Taperge finished another half-length back in third.
After clocking the early fractions in 23.53 and 48.81, Conquest Hardcandy completed six furlongs in 1:12.35 and stopped the clock after a mile over the firm sod at 1:35.50.
“I bought the filly and waited three months to run the first time,” said conditioner Antonio Sano. “I liked the filly for speed on the turf. She won her first race wire to wire. The next race was very close (three weeks apart). I waited one month for this race. I told (Edgard Zayas) to repeat the first race – wire to wire, win the race. I think last time she went a little too fast.”
In her first start for her new connections Conquest Hardcandy broke her maiden in front-running style at 7 1/2 furlongs on turf, and next out tried much loftier company and a route of ground in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream Park, and tired after setting the pace.
Bred by the New Hill Farm LLC and foaled at Sequel Stallions New York in Hudson, Conquest Hardcandy is the second foal and first starter out of Dade Babe (Cimarron Secret), a Florida-bred Grade 3 winner. Dade Babe has also produced a juvenile colt by Lemon Drop Kid, a yearling filly by Hard Spun and was bred to Bodemeister in 2016.
With a record of two wins from four starts, Conquest Hardcandy has earned $82,940.