Streaking 'Thorpedo' Takes Kentucky Oaks

Thorpedo Anna | Horsephotos


LOUISVILLE, KY — All week, trainer Kenny McPeek had been telling the media, 'they better bring a bear because I have a grizzly.' Many would have thought that McPeek, sometimes regarded as a master of hyperbole, was overstating his chances.

It turns out he wasn't.

Armed with plenty of natural speed, Brookdale Racing, Mark Edwards, Judy Hicks and Magdalena Racing's 'TDN Rising Star' Thorpedo Anna (Fast Anna) lived up to her name by scampering to a three-length victory over last year's champion juvenile filly Just F Y I (Justify) in the 150th edition of the GI Kentucky Oaks Friday afternoon.

Showing an abundance of confidence in his horse all week, McPeek wasn't overly concerned when the skies opened up early Friday morning and intermittently drenched spectators (and the track) throughout the afternoon. Although the skies blackened menacingly during the paddock proceedings and the post parade, the rain managed to hold for the start of the race.

In the newly furnished paddock before the race, the filly did her best impersonation of a ballerina, dancing on her toes but maintaining her composure despite the controlled chaos created by the swarming media, fans and the incredible mass of camera equipment that would make Kodak blush.

The field loaded into the gate with little fanfare, and they were quickly given the green light. Thorpedo Anna rushed up from post four, and was initially confronted by GII Davona Dale winner Fiona's Magic (St Patrick's Day) and the 'TDN Rising Star' duo of Ways and Means with Into Champagne (Into Mischief), with the champ Just F Y I a short way back through very solid opening fractions of :22.87 and :46.79. As Into Champagne began a gradual retreat, Just F Y I started to unfurl her long legs from her outside berth, moving with purpose three wide passing the quarter pole. From there, it seemed like the mountainous filly was going to push right on past, however Thorpedo Anna had a response. Unfazed by the imminent pressure on her outside flank, the GII Fantasy S. winner scampered off, crossing the wire an unchallenged 4 3/4-length winner over Just F Y I. It was the largest winning margin in the Oaks since the astonishing 20 1/4-length gap Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d'Oro) put on the 2009 Oaks field.

The Chad Brown-trained pair of Regulatory Risk (Omaha Beach) and Ways and Means filled the next two spots. Well-supported at the windows, 'TDN Rising Stars' Tarifa (Bernardini) and Leslie's Rose (Into Mischief) finished ninth and 13th, respectively.

“It was a magical moment, because turning for home, she was so relaxed and cruising, I was able to enjoy the roar of the crowd for a few jumps,” said winning rider Brian Hernandez. “And then when I called on her, she responded and just ran away from them.”

After recording their first Oaks victory, McPeek and Hernandez will have the opportunity to complete the rare Oaks-Kentucky Derby double on Saturday when they team up with Mystik Dan (Goldencents) in Saturday's Run for the Roses.

The most recent trainer to sweep the Oaks and Derby in the same year was Ben Jones in 1952 with Real Delight and Hill Gail. The most recent rider to complete the double was Calvin Borel in 2009 with Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird.

“It worked out the way I thought,” affirmed Hernandez. “Kenny [McPeek] and I have talked about the race a few times over the last few days. It looked like there was no speed to our inside. So we thought that if we let her run under the wire in the first time, she would get good position, which she did. From there, she is just such a naturally talented filly, she went quick through the half and the whole way around there, really. She was just doing it with her ears up and cruising along.”

Addressing how he envisioned the race, McPeek added, “On paper, it didn't look like there was any speed that was really going to eyeball her. There wasn't anything obvious. She has natural speed. We decided to take advantage of that. [Fiona's Magic], which was the one that was on her outside, was one that I told Brian [Hernandez], 'Look this one is probably going to look at you for a little bit, but I don't think she's going to challenge you for long.' And I think I looked at the board and she was 37-1. But :22 and change, :46 and change made me a little bit nervous, but she was doing it within herself and a natural athlete. Obviously she got there.”

McPeek had finished runner-up in the Oaks on three prior occasions with Swiss Skydiver (2020), Daddys Lil Darling (2017) and Take Charge Lady (2002).

Do the failed swings make finally getting the win all the sweeter?

“It does add to it, but setbacks are part of the game,” said McPeek. “There's an old saying: win like you're used to it and lose like you like it. And so you have to deal with the losses, and you have to learn from the losses. All I have done is try to bring some good fillies into the race. I think I have a couple of thirds and fourths also. So, we were kind of getting an idea of what kind of horses it took. But to punch it over the edge is really nice.”

Sorry, 'Just' Not Today

Last year's champion filly ran a winning race, however, appeared to hang a hair at the end of the nine-furlong Classic test.

“I had a great trip. I didn't have any excuses,” said Mott of the runner-up. “My filly broke a little funny from the outside post but we got as good a trip as you could possibly ask for. I mean [Junior Alvarado] got her tucked in, she was in position leaving the five-sixteenths pole to win. It looked like we had that filly [Thorpedo Anna] on our radar. It looked like she could probably catch her from there and the other filly just didn't back up.”

When asked about Oaks third Regulatory Risk, Brown was seemingly pleased with the filly, a maiden winner who has yet to break through into black-type.

“She really ran super and mission accomplished with her,” Brown said. “We were trying to get third. And for a moment there at the quarter pole looking at the fractions, I'm thinking could she inherit, sort of, this win with a pace collapse? That wasn't to be. But she did run great.”

Of the fourth-place finisher Ways and Means, Brown added, “The winner was making the fractions and she was a deserving winner. [Ways and Means] just couldn't keep up. Talking to Tyler [Gaffalione] after the race, he said he liked the trip. She was in the clear out of trouble and they were going fast but she's a fast horse. I don't think that had anything to do with it.”

Riding a three-race winning streak coming into the Oaks, dual Grade II scorer Tarifa never appeared to get into the mix of things over the sloppy/sealed surface.

“I was disappointed,” said Tarifa's rider, Flavien Prat. “She never made any move. I can't blame the sloppy track because she won on it this winter. It just wasn't her day.”

Hitting the Mark

The 8 1/2-length winner of an auction-price restricted maiden on Keeneland debut Oct. 26, Thorpedo Anna backed that up with an equally sparkling performance when airing by nine lengths when stretched to a mile at this venue Nov. 10 to achieve 'Rising Star' status. A 5 1/4-length runner up in the GII Golden Rod S. Nov. 25, she rebounded to win in her latest race when returning as a 3-year-old in the Fantasy at Oaklawn Mar. 30.

“She was relatively easy as a 2-year-old filly,” McPeek recalled. “She didn't come around until a little bit later in the season. And we trailed three races together pretty quick with her because she did it so easily. And then it was a matter of putting her on the shelf for a little bit and then bringing her back.

“This past winter, we don't know exactly when, how it happened, but she walked out of her stall lame in behind. And it turned out–we tried to walk her out of it. She wasn't coming out of it. We trucked her to Kentucky and had Dr. [Larry] Bramlage look at her. She had a bruise on her hip the size of–just maybe under the size of a softball. It was very unusual. He said it's no big deal. There's no fracture. It's just a deep bruise. We don't know if she hit it on a stall door or if she did it laying down, getting up. Hard to say.”

He continued, “But that actually set us back almost six weeks. And then when we started getting her ready at the Fair Grounds for the race at Oaklawn, I actually had a series of races that I had chosen to bring her into her first race of the season. She was not quite ready for the Fair Grounds Oaks. I thought the [Apr. 5] GI Ashland S. was a good race. I think she could have won the Ashland, too. But the Fantasy fell in order.

“She won easy that day. It was okay, because I thought she was about 80% and she did it like she was 110.”

McPeek is clearly not afraid to swing for the fences with a talented filly facing colts in Grade Is, as evidenced by Swiss Skydiver returning a month after her Oaks second to take the GI Preakness S. in COVID-reshuffled 2020.

“I have thought about it already,” he said when asked if he considered running in the second jewel of the Triple Crown. “And you know, it would be like me to do something like that.”

“But we'll have to talk to the ownership. She wasn't nominated for the Triple Crown. I have said all week that I wasn't scared to even run her against colts. I mean, she's that good. We would have to look at the numbers. I think it's a $200,000 entry fee, which is pretty steep.”

He added, “But then again, there aren't a lot of options for 3-year-old fillies beyond this. It doesn't make any sense to come into a GII Black-Eyed Susan [May 17]. I will have to look at what's Belmont week. Ultimately, I would like to get her to the GI Alabama S. [at Saratoga]. I would like to win another Alabama. And there's a couple of nice races in New York later on in the season for straight 3-year-olds.”

Eskimo Kisses (To Honor and Serve), fourth in the 2018 Oaks, romped in that year's Alabama and Swiss Skydiver gave him another two years later.

Pedigree Notes:
The victory marked the first Grade I winner for the sadly departed Fast Anna (Medaglia d'Oro).

Additionally, the 150th Oaks winner was bred by Judy Hicks, who took on the mare more out of charity rather than the notion that she might breed a Classic winner. Hicks stayed in for a piece of the filly.

“She was premature; seven, eight weeks premature when she was born,” she explained. “She was 45” tall, weighed 60 pounds. Her hocks were crushed. And there wasn't much hope of any future for her.”

She continued, “So I volunteered to take her from the owners, Mr. Sanford Robertson and Kathryn Nikkel, who bred her. And Mr. Robertson graciously gave her to me when I volunteered to keep her. And I tried to do my magic and it worked.”

Thorpedo Anna is the second foal out of the 9-year-old mare. The first, Charlee O (Tonalist) earned over $100,000 on the track. Now a millionaire, Thorpedo Anna was purchased by McPeek for a mere $40,000 at the Fasig-Tipton October yearling sale in 2022. The mare produced a colt by Cloud Computing the following season, and he also realized $40,000 when selling at Keeneland last September. The daughter of Uncle Mo foaled a filly by Known Agenda earlier this year.


🎥 #TwinSpiresReplay

— TwinSpires Racing 🏇 (@TwinSpires) May 3, 2024

Friday, Churchill Down
LONGINES KENTUCKY OAKS-GI, $1,500,000, Churchill Downs, 5-3, 3yo, f, 1 1/8m, 1:50.83, sy.
1–THORPEDO ANNA, 121, f, 3, by Fast Anna
                1st Dam: Sataves, by Uncle Mo
                2nd Dam: Pacific Sky, by Stormy Atlantic
                3rd Dam: Aldebaran Light, by Seattle Slew
1ST GRADE I WIN. 'TDN Rising Star'. ($40,000 Ylg '22 FTKOCT).
O-Brookdale Racing, Inc., Mark Edwards, Judy B. Hicks and
Magdalena Racing (Sherri McPeek); B-Judy Hicks (KY);
T-Kenneth G. McPeek; J-Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. $846,300.
Lifetime Record: 5-4-1-0, $1,430,663. Werk Nick Rating: A++.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Click for the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Just F Y I, 121, f, 3, by Justify
                1st Dam: Star Act (SP, $147,605), by Street Cry (Ire)
                2nd Dam: Starrer, by Dynaformer
                3rd Dam: To the Hunt, by Relaunch
O/B-George Krikorian (KY); T-William I. Mott. $273,000.
3–Regulatory Risk, 121, f, 3, by Omaha Beach
1st Dam: Walkwithapurpose (MSW & GSP, $297,210), by Candy Ride (Arg)
                2nd Dam: Lightning Lydia, by Broad Brush
                3rd Dam: Bye the Bye, by Balzac
1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. ($235,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP). O-Klaravich
Stables, Inc.; B-Upson Downs Farm & Louis W. Wright (KY);
T-Chad C. Brown. $136,500.
Margins: 4 3/4, 3, 2 3/4. Odds: 4.49, 3.57, 29.78.
Also Ran: Ways and Means, Everland, Power Squeeze, Into Champagne, Lemon Muffin, Tarifa, Where's My Ring, Our Pretty Woman, Gin Gin, Leslie's Rose, Fiona's Magic. Scratched: Candied, Tapit Jenallie.
Click for the chart and the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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