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Conclave and his jockey, Nate Smith (left), are shown. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- Is it a coincidence or something else?

Last Tuesday, Catholic cardinals met in conclave to begin the process of selecting a new pope. On the same day, a horse was winning ninth straight race at Turf Paradise in Phoenix.

That horse's name? Conclave.

"I didn't even realize it was conclave day until after we won the race," said Nate Smith, Conclave's jockey. "It created quite a stir, you know?"

Turf Paradise spokesman Mike Scerbo said how Conclave got his name is a mystery.

"One of the original owners is in Australia, and we haven't been able to track him down to ask him," he said. "We checked out his lineage. His father is Saratoga Six and his granddad is Salt Lake. There's nothing in his lineage to indicate why this horse is named Conclave."

Smith said there's no divine intervention in the way 9-year-old Conclave runs.

"He does everything on his own," he said. "Three starts ago, he actually got passed by another horse just before the wire. He just dug back in and got by him the last jump. He don't want to be beat."

Conclave will go for his 10th straight win next month.

Bob McClay, Reporter

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