Conquest Mo Money: A Sneaky Preakness Contender
Monday, May 15, 2017
by John Piassek
According to twitter, this year’s Preakness is strictly a two-horse affair. There’s Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, looking to give trainer Todd Pletcher his first Preakness victory, and top Derby contender Classic Empire, hoping to avenge his fourth-place finish in Louisville. The rest of the field, especially the so-called “new shooters”, are considered bit players, not serious threats.
History would suggest the same thing. As a certain someone noted on this site last year, horses who did not run in the Kentucky Derby almost never win the Preakness. In the past 30 years, only three horses who skipped the Derby won the Preakness: the great filly Rachel Alexandra in 2009, the brilliant Bernardini in 2006, and Red Bullet in 2000. While no one in this year’s group fits the profile of the former two, one Preakness contender draws comparisons to Red Bullet.
Red Bullet, owned by Frank Stronach, looked like a legitimate Kentucky Derby horse in 2000. He won the Gotham Stakes, then ran second in the Wood Memorial behind Fusaichi Pegasus. While most horses like him would be sent to the First Saturday in May in Louisville, Stronach took a different route. Rather than throw Red Bullet into the Derby cavalry charge, he elected to wait and run a fresh horse in the Preakness Stakes.
The plan worked like a charm. Off a emphatic Derby score, “FuPeg” went off at 1/5 in the 2000 Preakness, while Red Bullet was dismissed at 6/1. Turning the tables, Red Bullet shot through horses in the stretch and defeated Fusaichi Pegasus by more than four lengths.
For seventeen years, almost no one who had a good, Derby-ready three-year-old elected to skip that race and point toward the Preakness. As such, most of the “new shooters” were mediocre horses, which is why most of them never won.
Now, however, a horse with a very similar profile as the Bullet will enter this year’s Preakness: Conquest Mo Money.
Like Red Bullet, Conquest Mo Money did not run as a two-year-old, making his debut on January 6 at Sunland Park. He broke his maiden at first asking, and followed that up with wins in the Riley Allison Stakes and the Mine That Bird Derby. After his maiden score, Red Bullet won a n/w1x allowance, then the Gotham Stakes.
After that big win at Sunland, Conquest Mo Money ran second in the Sunland Derby to Hence, and followed that up with a second in the Arkansas Derby, behind Classic Empire. Following those performances, he was firmly in the Derby top 20, and had plenty of points to take a shot at the roses.
However, unlike the other horses on that list, Conquest Mo Money was not nominated to the Triple Crown. Rather than pay the $150,000 supplemental fee and take a shot as a Derby longshot, his connections opted to wait for the Preakness, where he’ll be a fresh horse facing a field where most of the top contenders ran just two weeks ago.
This year, the majority of the field– Always Dreaming, Classic Empire, Gunnevara, Hence, and Lookin at Lee– contested the Derby. In a normal year, they’d be by far the best three-year-olds in the race. Most of the other “new shooters”– Senior Investment, Multiplier, Cloud Computing, and Term of Art– look like the types who tend to get buried in the Preakness.
However, Conquest Mo Money is a different type of “new shooter”. He’s an elite three-year-old who would have fit in very well on the Derby stage, but has chosen to be a fresh horse for Baltimore. With all the attention going to the Derby horses, Conquest Mo Money could fly under the radar, and go off at 10/1 or more. This is a betting opportunity not often seen, and one that ought to be taken advantage of.
(cover photo: Coady Photography)