Blog Entries
Belmont Stakes: Conquistador Cielo

Part Five:  Conquistador Cielo

Read more at: 


Similar to this year, there was no Triple Crown on the line in the 1982 Belmont Stakes.  However, the race did not fall short in quality, and played out as one of the most interesting Belmonts ever run.   This race ranks among the most remarkable because of the unconventional path Conquistador Cielo took into the winner’s circle.

As a juvenile, Conquistador Cielo showed promise, placing first in two out of his four starts.  His wins included the Saratoga Special, a premier race for young horses.  This Woody Stephens trainee did not reach the zenith of his career until the summer of 1982.

It was expected that Conquistador Cielo would enter the Kentucky Derby.  Unfortunately, a leg injury acquired earlier in his career was not healing to the point where Woody Stephens felt it was safe to run the colt; therefore he would have to wait for his shot at the Preakness Stakes.

As Conquistador Cielo stood in his stall, the grey Gato del Sol made Derby history, becoming the first horse to win from the eighteen hole.  With a quick time of 2:02.2, Gato del Sol had a legitimate chance to enjoy a victory in Baltimore.

Conquistador Cielo proved he was ready to challenge the imposing Derby winner upon winning a Preakness prep, but opted out of the big race for what Woody Stephens thought was an “easier” route to the Belmont Stakes.  The connections’ desire to race in the Belmont was kept private.

After skipping the Preakness, the colt made his next start in the Metropolitan Handicap against eleven colts.  The advantage of the “Met Mile” was that it was run at a mile-1 ½ furlongs shorter than the Preakness.  The drawback was nearly lethal, being only six days before the demanding Belmont Stakes, also on the strenuous dirt track of Belmont Park; as well as a strong possibility of being pressured by older, more experienced horses.

By setting the half mile in :45 for the Metropolitan Handicap, Conquistador Cielo displayed his pacemaking running style.  As the favorite at odds of 2-1, he began pulling away shortly after the half.  Conquistador Cielo received hard urging from his regular rider, Eddie Maple, who had ridden Secretariat in his final start almost ten years before.  Conquistador Cielo passed the wire 7 ¼ lengths in front, with a finishing time of 1:33, breaking the track record set in 1973.

After the race, it was announced that Conquistador Cielo would be a starter in the Belmont Stakes.  This was shocking news for racing enthusiasts, from the fans to the insiders.  The days of racing horses so frequently were far in the past.  Was it possible for a horse of the ‘New Ages’ to come back to race just six days later?

Out of the gates in the Belmont Stakes, he proved he was far from empty when he ran up to make the pace.  Breaking from the outside, he was placed approximately ten wide around the first turn.  Because of his position, he obviously lost ground.  He lost the pace, and was battling for second with a horse on the inside.  New rider, Laffit Pincay, brought him closer to the rail into the backstretch, approximately three wide.  It was not long before Conquistador Cielo passed the opposing colt, and challenged the pacemaker.   

The two pulled away from the others by four lengths, remaining neck and neck.  Without asking, Conquistador Cielo began drawing away from his competitor, midway down the backstretch.

As he led the field into the final turn, his winning margin was decreasing as High Accent, ridden by Frankie Lovato, came up to challenge.  They were neck and neck for the lead, but Conquistador Cielo had not yet been pressed by his rider.

Shortly thereafter, the bay colt denied his opponents the Belmont Stakes win, pulling away as he entered the exhausting final turn at Belmont Park.  Going approximately six paths wide, his margin only increased as he glided over the sloppy racetrack.  Without urging, he hit the wire fourteen lengths in front of the placer, Gato del Sol.  Conquistador Cielo’s time of 2:28 ¼ for 1 ½ miles was quite remarkable, considering the conditions on which the race was run.  The 1982 racing season was punctuated by this son of Mr. Prospector for his outstanding performance in the Belmont Stakes.

Not only was Mr. Prospector one of the most influential sires of all time, but he also has Myrtlewood as his fourth dam.  He was a versatile in the breeding shed, his greatest progeny having success at both Classic, and sprint distances.  Mr. Prospector’s greatest offspring include Gone West, Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, Gulch; Forty-Niner, 1991 Kentucky Derby winner, Seeking The Gold; and Fusaichi Pegasus, who wasn’t just an impressive yearling, selling for four million dollars, but also won the 2000 Kentucky Derby, and placed in the Preakness.

Conquistador Cielo is out of K D Princess, who is by Bold Commander.  His broodmare sire is by Bold Ruler, and out of a Discovery mare.  Two crosses of Discovery can be found in his fifth generation, as well as crosses of Nearco.  Nasrullah appears twice in Conquistador Cielo’s fourth generation.  His second dam is by Turn-To, who sired greats such as Hail To Reason, and Sir Gaylord.  The colt’s third dam is by Tim Tam, who was sired by 1953 Horse of the Year, Tom Fool.

Before the end of the 1982 racing season, he was sold to a breeding syndicate for a then record price of $36.4 million.  Conquistador Cielo went into his stud career at Claiborne Farm with high hopes, but his progeny brought some speculation.

The statistics speak for themselves.  His offspring’s winning percentage was a remarkable sixty-four percent; one percent greater than his sire, and fourteen larger than Raise A Native.  His foals also carried on their sire’s durability, and talent.  Wagon Limit was third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup as a three year old, and then won the race at four.  Mi Cielo won at both sprints and distance races, placing first in the King’s Bishop, and the Clark Handicap.  Lexicon earned $820,965 during his career including GII, and GIII wins.  Forty Niner Days started a remarkable forty-nine times, and also won GII’s and GIII’s.  Marquetry won the Hollywood Gold Cup twice, and the Eddie Read Handicap once.

With just one more historical Belmont Stakes account left on my list following my article on War Admiral, I went back to review and make sure I did not leave anyone out that deserved accolades for their exceptional Belmont Stakes performance.  I realized that this son of Mr. Prospector should never go overlooked when one thinks of the greatest Belmont Stakes of all time.   

Blog Categories

Recent Comments
"Rest in Peace, Mrs. Ernst."
In: Riding With A Purpose
by: Chi-Chi
"I too am owned by a ott gelding. His name is Noble Assent.I also..."
In: I thought I bought a racehorse...
by: Michaela

Welcome to Jockey World!


Education, Health & Safety into
the world of Horse Racing

If you have questions or would like to learn more how you can help and support Jockey World, please email:

Our Sponsors & Supporters
The Equicizer           photo DRF_zpsd50ecb76.jpg             photo starlightracing_zpse9f456cb.jpg             photo Jurado_zpsfbde45fe.jpg             photo Secretariat_zps044872ce.jpg             photo JockeyTack_zps9fda5491.jpg             photo Arlington_zps59f88fbb.jpg             photo betptc_zps838b6c70.jpg             photo HorseRacesNow_zps9c8e4710.jpg             photo SummitTB_zpsaa58af85.jpg             photo theTDN_zpsa7d51523.jpg


Recommend Jockey World To Friends!
Follow Us!

Join Jockey World

Like Jockey World

Follow Jockey World

Watch Jockey World
All Jockey World Forum Activity
There have been no posts in the last 10 days.
Jockey World Members Blog Posts
Thursday, March 21, 2013
I thought I bought a racehorse...
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Whatch out world ...Here we come!
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Another day closer to being a jockey- Dec. 15, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
An Inspiration On and Off the Track: Chris McCarron
Friday, November 18, 2011
Riding With A Purpose
Jockey World Stats
Today's Traffic

Visits: 18

Hits: 0


Visits: 0

Hits: 0

Total Traffic

Visits: 18

Hits: 0

Skysa Website Social Bar