Like Cloud Computing, this is a colt that had the points necessary to run in the Kentucky Derby but opted not to. Cloud Computing was held out due to inexperience - he has only three career starts and didn't debut until February. For this colt, though, the reasoning was more practical - he is not Triple Crown nominated, so running in the Derby would have cost $200,000. This race is $50,000 less and much less crowded, so it makes financial sense. It's still a pretty big investment, though. So, can Conquest Mo Money warrant that expenditure?
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The colt has already been a great investment on one front. He was part of an 89-horse dispersal sale last year for Conquest Stables. He hadn't started yet, and had training issues, so despite very solid breeding he sold for just $8,500 - a lower price than 81 of the other horses in the sale. He has career earnings of $508,900, so even with the $150,000 to supplement him in this race he has been a spectacular investment.
Last race: The colt took a pretty big step up in class last time out, and he didn't look out of place. The Arkansas Derby was his first start away from tiny Sunland Park in New Mexico, and he was an 18/1 long shot in the 12-horse field. Despite going four wide around the first turn, the colt took the lead about three-eighths of a mile in, and he held the advantage right into the latter part of the stretch. He was caught by Classic Empire in the end, but he still looked solid at the wire. He beat three Derby horses in that race, including runner-up Lookin at Lee. And there is no shame in losing to the reigning two-year-old champion. It was a strong outing.
Prior experience: Before heading to Oaklawn Park the colt had run four times at Sunland Park. He didn't make his debut until January - historically a major no for the Derby but a little less of a concern here. He narrowly won his maiden debut, and then went in two minor stakes at Sunland - the latter being the Mine That Bird Stakes, named after the most famous horse to be based out of the New Mexico track. He won both. Then he jumped to graded action for the Sunland Derby. He ran nicely but was beaten by Hence, who had a rough trip in the Derby but is back here in the Preakness. The fourth-place runner in that race, Irap, went on to be the shocking Blue Grass winner before finishing 19th in the Derby. So, all in all it wasn't a bad effort for a graded stakes debut.
Trainer: I won't pretend to know much of anything about Miguel Hernandez. He is in just his third year as a trainer, he toils mostly at tracks no one really pays attention to like Sunland and Prairie Meadows in Iowa, he has not won a graded stakes race, and Conquest Mo Money has earned four times as much as his second-most-successful horse ever has. He is as much of an outsider as a guy can be. Of course, that doesn't preclude him from winning a race like that - Mine That Bird's connections were every bit as obscure, and they won the Derby from Sunland.
Jockey: I know just as much about Jorge Carreno as I do about Hernandez. He has been riding since 2002 and has more than 1,300 career wins, but none have been anywhere near the caliber of this race. He has one career graded stakes win - the 2012 Canadian Derby, held in Edmonton of all places, aboard Toccetive. He has won more than $50,000 aboard this horse, and Toccetive was his second-most-successful mount ever - the two combined for $140,000. So, he's taking a very large step up in class here. He'll be fine as long as he stays calm, rides his race, and doesn't get sucked into bad decisions by the very good riders he will be facing. He cannot be viewed as an asset, though.
Breeding: Sire Uncle Mo was the two-year-old champion in 2010, but illness sabotaged his three-year-old campaign and he never reached his full potential. He's a young sire, but early returns have been spectacular - he won the Kentucky Derby last year with Nyquist from his first crop of three year olds. Conquest Mo Money's damsire is Seeking the Gold, who was seventh in the 1988 Derby and second to the great Alysheba in the Breeders' Cup Classic that year. His son Jazil won the 2006 Belmont, and other great offspring include champions Flanders and Heavenly Prize. This is a nicely-bred colt - especially considering he was purchased for $8,500. He can handle this distance.
Odds: At +2000 to win the Preakness at BetOnline he is the seventh choice among the likely 10-horse field. I don't much like his chances to win, but if the actual odds wind up in this ballpark he will certainly be useful lower down in the exotics. If Always Dreaming repeats his Derby win we'll need horses like this to get a piece of the action to avoid microscopic exotics payouts.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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