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NM colt eyes Preakness

Conquest Mo Money, the promising New Mexico-based thoroughbred, is being pointed toward the Preakness Stakes.

The colt earned enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby with second-place finishes in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and the Grade 3 Sunland Derby. He has lifetime earnings of $508,900 for Judge Lanier Racing, which is based in Taiban, just east of Fort Sumner.

But Conquest Mo Money was not nominated for the Triple Crown races. That means Judge Lanier Racing owners Tom and Sandy McKenna will pay a $150,000 supplemental fee to make the colt eligible for the May 20 Preakness. Had they decided to enter the May 6 Derby, the fee would have been $200,000.

“It was a difficult choice,” Tom McKenna said at a news conference at Sunland Park earlier this week. “But based on what is best for the horse, the choice is the Preakness Stakes.”

The New York-bred son of Uncle Mo out of a Seeking the Gold mare, was bought by the McKennas for $8,500 at the Keeneland November sale.

Earlier this year, Conquest Mo Money won the 1 1/16-mile Mine That Bird Handicap by two lengths over Irap, who is expected to run in the Kentucky Derby.

He then finished second to Hence — another probable Derby starter — in the 1⅛-mile Sunland Derby.

His last outing was a second-place showing in the Arkansas Derby, beaten by half a length over 1⅛ miles by Eclipse Award winner Classic Empire.

Conquest Mo Money’s trainer is Miguel L. Hernandez, a former jockey. Hernandez injured his back riding in a race at Ruidoso Downs in 2013, then turned to training.

Judge Lanier Racing and Hernandez also campaign African Rose, an 8-year-old mare who won the El Diaro Handicap in February at Sunland.

RUIDOSO: Imperial Eagle, the 2016 All American Futurity winner, is expected to return to Ruidoso Downs and aim toward the track’s major derby events this summer.

The 2017 season begins May 26 with the first of two days of trials for the $1 million Ruidoso Futurity.

The Ruidoso Futurity finals is June 11. The $1 million Rainbow Futurity is July 23, while the $3 million All American Futurity is set for Labor Day.

Seven of the 10 American Quarter Horse Association’s 2016 champions raced at Ruidoso Downs last year. The mountain track will feature seven Grade 1 quarter horse races this summer.

The safety rail between the quarter horse track and the thoroughbred track has been replaced. The track also added box seats on the lower level.

ALBUQUERQUE: The Downs at Albuquerque will begin its 2017 season on June 24.

The track, which debuted night racing last year, will offer 20 stakes races — 12 for thoroughbreds and eight for quarter horses.

The richest race is the 400-yard, $300,000 La Fiesta Futurity on closing day, Sept. 24.

The winner of the 440-yard, $250,000 Albuquerque Fall Championship will earn a spot in the Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos. That will also be run on closing day.

The 1⅛-mile, $200,000 Downs at Albuquerque Handicap will be Aug. 5.

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