BALTIMORE — Conquest Mo Money could be in line for a big payday Saturday in the $1.5 million Preakness.
He drew the outside post in a field of 10 as a 15-1 shot in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.
Regardless of the Preakness outcome, Conquest Mo Money is already a winner for New Mexico-based owner Tom McKenna, 81, who paid only $8,500 for the colt last November at the dispersal sale of Conquest Stable horses.
It was a bargain-basement price for a New York-bred colt that Conquest acquired for $180,000 one year earlier.
Unraced before this season, Conquest Mo Money already has earned $508,900. He won his first three races at Sunland Park and finished second in his last two, the Sunland Derby and the Arkansas Derby.
He had enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, but McKenna decided to wait for the Preakness. And he was willing to reinvest a chunk of the horse’s earnings to get here.
Conquest Mo Money was not nominated to the Triple Crown. The supplemental penalty was a hefty $150,000.
Early speed is Conquest Mo Money’s strong suit. He set a pressured pace in the Arkansas Derby, beaten only a half-length by Classic Empire, last season’s juvenile champion.
Classic Empire went on to the Kentucky Derby, finishing fourth in the slop following a rough trip.
Classic Empire and Conquest Mo Money meet again in the Preakness, with both aiming to knock off Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming.
While the Derby action unfolded at Churchill Downs two weeks ago, Conquest Mo Money was quietly prepping for the Preakness at Prairie Meadows. He arrived in Baltimore on Sunday following a two-day van ride from Iowa and seems to be thriving at Pimlico.
“He’s the first horse like this that I’ve had in my career,” said Jorge Carreno, the regular rider who has exercised the colt each morning this week. “We get along so well that it’s like we’re just one. It’s amazing. He just gets better and better.”
This will be the first appearance in a Triple Crown race for the owner, the jockey and trainer Miguel Hernandez.
Conquest Mo Money would not be the first horse from New Mexico to pull a Triple Crown stunner. Mine That Bird was the 50-1 upset winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby. He went on to finish second in the Preakness and third in the Belmont.