OCEANPORT – It was just around noon that jockey Tomas Mejia learned he had picked up a mount on what looked like a hopeless longshot in the 13th race at Monmouth Park on Sept. 26.
A little more than six hours later, Mejia had etched his name in the track’s record book, according to a press release.
Andrez Conquist, a 158-1 shot ridden by Meija, returned the biggest win price in Monmouth Park’s 75-year history when he paid $319.80 in a shockingly easy four-length victory that erased a 69-year-old mark.
The former record for the highest win payoff in Monmouth history was $229.20, set on July 15, 1951.
Melvin Ovando owns and trains Andrez Conquist.
“I don’t know what to say. Wow,” Mejia said after learning of the record setting win. “They told me all the other jockeys that have ridden this horse have wanted to come from behind. The trainer said ‘get him close to the lead this time.’ So I was able to sit behind (The Mormon Mauler) for most of the race and then he just finished strong. I don’t know what else to say.”
Andrez Conquist tracked The Mormon Mauler for most of the mile-and-a-sixteenth turf race before pulling away in the stretch.
Mejia only picked up the mount because Jorge Gonzalez opted to ride Storm Afleet, who came off the alternate list because of a scratch. Gonzalez had listed Andrez Conquist as his second choice in the race.
“My agent called and told me I picked up a mount in the 13th race and I said ‘OK, that sounds good.’ Then I looked and saw it was a longshot, but it was OK because I have ridden for Ovando before,” Mejia said.
In fact, the only three wins of Ovando’s two-year training career have come with Mejia riding. Mejia booted home Reina La Kelsey for a $79.20 win mutual for Ovando’s first career victory on July 24. Those same connections hooked up for a win on Sept. 6 at a win mutual of $24.20.
Andrez Conquist had been 0-for-6 lifetime entering the race, never finishing better than sixth.