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Conquest follows seldom-used path

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Photographs by Mitchell PE Masilun

Conquest Mo Money (right), ridden by Jorge Carreno, finished second in the Arkansas Derby on April 15, but the colt might be in line for a big day in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.

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 Stable acquired for $180,000 one year earlier.

Unraced as a 2-year-old, Conquest Mo Money already has earned $508,900. He won his first three races at Sunland Park, outside of El Paso, 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 instead of plunking down the $200,000 necessary to enter the Derby because Conquest Mo Money was not a Triple Crown nominee.

The supplemental penalty for the Preakness is still a hefty $150,000, but McKenna was willing to do it with an extra two weeks of rest between races.

Conquest Mo Money pressured the pace in the Arkansas Derby, had the lead in midstretch, and was beaten only a half-length by Classic Empire, last season's 2-year-old 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.

Conquest Mo Money went about his business of prepping for the Preakness at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa, miles from the hubbub unfolding at Churchill Downs two weeks ago.

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.

Sports on 05/19/2017

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