Sandy McKenna said she felt “a little overwhelmed” on Thursday.
The Southern Colorado rancher was a bit out of her element, walking around the paddock at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
Oh, she is no stranger to the track — she is a veteran in the sport of kings — just not this track, of one of the big three in horse racing.
Sandy and her husband, Tom, are the owners of Conquest Mo Money, a 15-1 entry in the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.
They will take on the bigger, established stables in the second leg of the Triple Crown.
“It’s very exciting and we’re enjoying every minute of it,” Ms. McKenna said as her horse is one of 10 in the field. “We hope to be in the winner’s circle on Saturday.”
The McKennas entered into horse racing nearly 15 years ago with the same dream as every owner: To run in the Kentucky Derby.
“That was our goal, to get a horse that one day got us to the Derby,” Ms. McKenna said. “We’re eternal optimists and we’re gamblers. Those are the two things you need to be owners. And we’re both.”
After leading for much of the race, Conquest Mo Money finished second in the Arkansas Derby, losing by a half-length to Classic Empire. That finish earned Conquest Mo Money enough points to be eligible for the Kentucky Derby. But the turnaround time between the two races — three weeks — was too tight.
“Sure we were disappointed, but running the (Kentucky) Derby wasn’t what was best for the horse,” Tom said. “If you don’t do what’s best for the horse in this business, you’re not going to be in this business very long.”
Conquest Mo Money will break from the 10th gate Saturday and could easily set the pace in the 13/ 16- mile race (slightly shorter than the Kentucky Derby). Only two horses since 2000 have skipped the Derby and won the Preakness.
The horse will run under the ownership flag of Judge Lanier Racing (named after Tom’s grandfather). Its trainer, Miguel Hernandez, used to be a jockey. Jorge Carreno will be up on Conquest Mo Money on Saturday.
“George — Jorge likes to be called ‘George’ — is so familiar with the horse. They know each other so well,” Sandy said. “It’s going to be such a thrill to see those two in this race.”
Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming was the morning line favorite at 4-5, followed by Classic Empire at 3-1.
Trying not to look past Saturday, Tom said they will wait and see how Conquest Mo Money runs before making a decision on entering the Belmont Stakes.
The McKennas own real estate in Pueblo, most notably in the Union Avenue Historic District.
“We get back there quite a bit. Not as often as we’d like, of course,” Sandy said. “We definitely consider ourselves from Southern Colorado.”
Rob Carr, Getty Images
Conquest Mo Money trains on the track for the upcoming Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 16, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Preakness Stakes odds
|2. Cloud Computing||12-1|
|4. Always Dreaming||4-5|
|5. Classic Empire||3-1|
|7. Term of Art||30-1|
|8. Senior Investment||30-1|
|9. Lookin at Lee||10-1|
|10. Conquest Mo Money||15-1|