After winning his first two starts convincingly over maiden special weight and allowance rivals, Zabeel Racing International's CONVEYANCE (Indian Charlie) confirmed his status as an exciting Kentucky Derby (G1) prospect with a 1 3/4-length victory in Saturday's $100,000 San Rafael S. (G3).
Sent off as the overwhelming 1-5 favorite versus only four rivals in his two-turn debut, the Bob Baffert-trained colt faced a brief challenge approaching the conclusion of the far turn and raced greenly in the stretch, but the gray was in complete control as he finished the mile in 1:36 2/5 over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride.
At the break, the speedster flashed to the front as expected under Garrett Gomez, reeling off splits in :24 2/5 and :48 2/5 on a one-length lead, and traveled a couple of paths off the rail entering the final bend. Longshot Cardiff Giant (Yankee Gentleman) surprisingly rallied up the rail to put a head in front through six furlongs in 1:12 3/5, but Gomez acted unconcerned and let his charge out a notch after straightening into the stretch.
Conveyance regained the advantage, passing the seven-eighths mark in 1:24 1/5, and drew clear in the final eighth of a mile. He left the impression that he could have won by more if he hadn't raced greenly in the lane, switching leads back and forth with his head cocked sideways toward the stands.
"I knew Victor (Espinoza, aboard Cardiff Giant) was going to try and pressure me at some point," Gomez said. "I went to the fence going into the first turn and he left me alone. Speed really hasn't been doing too well on this track, so I was hoping I didn't get too much pressure early.
"I came off the fence going down the backside, and I decided to leave it open going to the far turn because I didn't want my horse to be down on top of the fence with another horse pressing me. He got a little tired the last sixteenth and he switched back to his left lead. This race was a good learning curve for him."
"They went slow today," Baffert said, "and this horse wants to roll up front. The track was a concern for Garrett and me. Later in the day, it's much faster.
"He did get a little tired today, but I didn't get a chance to work him a mile. I thought he was good enough to win this without working him too far, and he was. It was a nice effort and he wasn't blowing that hard when he came back."
The heavy favorite returned $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10. Cardiff Giant, the longest price on the board at 13-1, held second by three-quarters of a length over Domonation (Maria's Mon) and gave back $5.20 and $3. Show was good for $2.40 at 5-1. Lucky Rave (GB) (Lucky Story) and Via Verde (Cherokee Run) came next under the wire, and the $1 exotics paid $7.10 (exacta) and $16 (3-1-2 trifecta).
Bred in Kentucky by Gulf Coast Farms, Conveyance commanded $240,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and was sold privately to his current connections after his second start. He's now earned $104,400 from three starts. The talented sophomore opened his racing career with a 1 1/2-length tally in an October 31 maiden special weight at Oak Tree, and entered the San Rafael off a seven-length thrashing in a November 25 allowance at Hollywood Park, both six-furlong races.
Conveyance is out of the Holy Bull mare Emptythetill and has a pair of younger half-siblings, the two-year-old colt Atlantic Bull (Stormy Atlantic) and a yearling filly by Half Ours. His third dam is Grade 2 winner Silent Account (Private Account), who is a full sister to Grade 1 hero Secret Hello. This is also the female family of 2008 Blue Grass S. (G1) winner, Monba (Maria's Mon).