Conquest Mo Money Headed To Preakness, Not Kentucky Derby

by | 04.18.2017 | 3:30pm
Conquest Mo Money, left, rushes up to press the pace entering the first turn in the G1 Arkansas Derby

Tom and Sandra McKenna's 3-year-old colt Conquest Mo Money will not be running in the Kentucky Derby, the couple announced in a press conference from Sunland Park on Tuesday. Though the son of Uncle Mo has 60 points on the leaderboard, he was not nominated to the Triple Crown, so to enter the Derby starting gate would have required a $200,000 late fee. Instead, McKenna will point Conquest Mo Money to the Preakness Stakes, which will require a $150,000 late nomination fee.

“This was one of the hardest decisions in my whole life,” said McKenna. “I wondered how many people I would disappoint if we don't run, and like any other owners, Sandra and I have always dreamed of the day we could run in the Kentucky Derby.

“In the end, though, I really believe the best choice for Conquest Mo Money is the Preakness.”

Conquest Mo Money won the listed Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland on Feb. 26, then returned to run a good second in the G3 Sunland Derby on March 26. Just three weeks later, the colt ran a very good second to juvenile champion Classic Empire in the G1 Arkansas Derby, bested just a half-length at the wire. McKenna believes that to turn around in another three weeks to run in the Derby would be too much to ask of the young colt, which contributed to his decision to wait for the Preakness.

Another contributing factor for the 81-year-old owner, whose Judge Lanier Racing Stable is named for his grandfather, was the field size for each of the big races. McKenna's opinion is that 20 horses in the Kentucky Derby starting gate is simply too many, and he prefers the 14-horse limit imposed on the Preakness.

Currently, Conquest Mo Money is stabled at Prairie Meadows Racecourse in Iowa, where he shipped following the Arkansas Derby. McKenna's plan is to keep the colt there until the trip to Maryland, though he has not yet decided whether he will van or fly to Pimlico. He joked that, having never flown a horse before, he and his wife would have to purchase an adjoining stall to the horse to save money on the flight.

Another interesting tidbit McKenna offered in the press conference was that he has already been offered seven figures for just a half-interest in Conquest Mo Money, a horse he paid just $8,500 for at the Keeneland November mixed sale last fall (from the Conquest Stables dispersal).

Miguel Hernandez, a former jockey, is the private trainer for the vast majority of McKenna's horses (between 40-50 right now), and has been with the owner for approximately 2 1/2 years. Together, they led the Sunland Park standings for the winter meeting by both wins and earnings.

Read more about trainer Miguel Hernandez and owner Tom McKenna here.

With Conquest Mo Money officially out of the Kentucky Derby starting gate, the points scenario has become a bit more clear. As reported yesterday, the horse currently in the 20th position on the leaderboard, Cloud Computing, is also likely to head to the Preakness instead of the first Saturday in May. Provided that trainer Chad Brown upholds that decision, Untrapped would move up into the 20th spot in the starting gate for trainer Steve Asmussen. Just behind that horse in 21st, and therefore on the bubble, would be another Asmussen trainee, Lookin at Lee.

  • KYFan2

    Kudos to the connections for not falling prey to Derby Fever and doing what’s best for the horse.

    • chasingfiringline


  • Judy Fraizer

    Well I am disappointed, but glad they are thinking of ConMo and what’s best for him. Preakness might be right up his alley in distance and the track. Wherever he goes I wish him safe, winning rides!

  • Ida Lee

    IMHO this is a very good decision … with Classic Empire now in the picture, along with all the other really, really talented contenders, it’s going to be tough to get on that Board…Conquest is very talented and will have a better shot at the Preakness

  • Erin Casseday

    Good for them! Best of luck in the Preakness!

  • David Worley

    This is a very sensible decision, although it would have been a hard one to make. Not very many owners ever have a chance to see their horse in the post parade of the KY Derby. That said, giving CMM 5 weeks to recover will really help him be competitive in the Preakness.

  • Bryan Langlois

    Completely agree with the 20 horses being too many for the Derby, but it will take some sort of horrific accident from horses crowding each other before CDI even things of lowering the number in the field.

  • GloriaU

    I have really started liking this horse, but I am glad they are giving him a break and waiting for the Preakness. He was tired in the Arkansas Derby running down the stretch and ran huge, better than I would have imagined. I can’t wait to follow him in the future. Congrats to the connections on what, in my lil ‘ol opinion, is the right call. Rest up CMM, and go get ’em in the Preakness.

  • McGov

    Smart move. Going to the Derby would have been far too much risk, all things considered. He hits the board in Preakness……fresh horse with tactical speed…..might win it who knows ;)

  • Doctor Ichabod

    Mo money mo problems

  • BoPommier

    depending on ship date to Pimlico, 4+ weeks in high altitude NM will only do wonders for this horse…could be nice overlay/forgotten horse in the Preakness…very smart and interesting

    • nucky thompson

      That would be all well and good if he wasn’t being stabled at Prairie Meadows in Iowa. I don’t think there’s much of an altitude there . There’s a hundred and fifty thousand reasons why he won’t be a forgotten horse in the Preakness !

  • Lefty_Orioles_Fan

    McKenna’s opinion is that 20 horses in the Kentucky Derby starting gate is simply too many

    There’s no doubt about that, it’s a joke really.

    • Bryan Langlois

      Not to CDI…because more horses allows more handle to churn through on them via bets.

      • Brandon Layer

        And gives you the bettor bigger payouts. But hey, who wants more money, right?

        • Bryan Langlois

          Which is more important, a safely run race with less risk of a pile up of horses if one clips heels in that calvary charge down the stretch the first time…or a few extra bucks in your pocket??

    • Bob Grenetz

      It used to be more
      I think in 1974 there were 24 and it was soon after that they changed to 20

    • Brandon Layer

      But if they change it to 14 what will be your excuse for picking losers every year?

      • Bryan Langlois

        European racing is run completely differently on different track set ups, can’t compare the 2 with field sizes that way in my opinion.

      • Lefty_Orioles_Fan

        Oh good heavens, when they have a 30 horse field in England they don’t even have a starting gate!!
        Also, the one that I watched it was a stakes race for horses that were seven years or older I believe and they had to jump.
        Lastly, if I remember correctly 1/4 of them did not finish because the jockeys fell off.
        It was insane and so is a 20 horse field for any race in America, including the Derby.

      • I agree Brandon. The Derby is a special race and it accomodates a large number of competitors but like any other race it could have an accident, heaven forbid. Then the do-gooders would want to prohibit it because all those nice horsies should graze in a pretty pasture every day. Never mind that there would be no thoroughbreds at all as it takes a lot of money to care for them, prepare them to be top athletes.and breed them for the new generations to come.
        As to them not having a starting gate in England, that does not make a it safer especially with much heavier jockeys, running two to three times farther and leaping over large jumps. By comparison, our Derby horses have it made for life if they do well in a strung out 20 horse field just this once in their careers.

  • William McAlevy

    The horse ran his eyeballs out the last 2 races, I believe this is a good decision by owners, out of all the preps he ran the best race in my opinion. He went wide first turn fought gamely to wire, thus lugging in and out, signs of a tired horse. Proud of owners to think of horse first. There’s plenty of horse racing to go this year. I would wait till Saratoga and have not pay 150,000.00 to race in Preakness, and let horse develop like his sire never go to do.

  • Dan Adams

    Don’t the two Japanese horses that can enter effect this list??? Don’t the top 18 get in if both Japanese entries decide to ship over and run in the Derby?

    • Jbumi

      Churchill was offering one spot to Japan. The top horse in points offered in races over there had right of first refusal then the spot would be offered to the next; then the third in line if the first two declined. If all 3 refused then the spot would revert back to the US. No horse from Japan decided to come over this year.

  • Noelle

    Totally agree with Mr. McKenna that 20 is too many and do not understand why they insist on such a large field. No one seems to think it’s a good idea.

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