Conquest Titan, late-running second to Cairo Prince in the January 25 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park, will make his next start in the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on March 29.
Trainer Mark Casse, who will saddle Coastline in Monday's Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, said on Presidents' Day morning that he decided to skip Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth and train up to Gulfstream's signature race.
"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."
Owned by Ernie Semersky's Conquest Stable, Conquest Titan breezed five furlongs in 1:00 on February 8 at Palm Meadows. A five-time winner of the Sovereign Award as Canada's top trainer, Casse said the Birdstone colt will work again later this week.
"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. I talked with Ernie and we just decided to wait and go straight to the Florida Derby."
Winner of the Swynford Stakes over the Polytrack at Woodbine last August, Conquest Titan closed his two-year-old year with a come-from-behind victory in a one-mile Churchill Downs allowance on November 30. Casse schooled Conquest Titan in the Gulfstream paddock on February 7.
"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," Casse said. "That was probably the biggest factor. I just want him to relax a little bit more than what he's doing."