Ken McPeek

Bombs Away in the Bourbon

Tiz the Bomb broke through the gate before the start and had to overcome a wide post, but those obstacles proved no matter as the improving colt picked up his second straight stakes win in Sunday's GII Castle & Key Bourbon S. at Keeneland, punching his ticket for the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Easily the most expensive progeny of his sire to sell in 2020 when hammering for $330,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearling Sale, the bay only beat one horse home debuting over five furlongs on the Churchill...

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Army Mule Filly on Top in Book 5 Opener

With Wednesday's Keeneland September Book 5 opener winding down, Maddie Matt Miller, agent, went to a session-topping $250,000 to secure a filly from the first crop of Army Mule. Consigned by Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency, agent, as Hip 3158, the chestnut is out of six-time winner Henny's Hurricane (Henny Hughes), a daughter of GSW Amarillo (Crafty Prospector). Hip 3158 is a half-sister to Amynta (Atreides), a multiple stakes winner in Panama. She was bred in Kentucky by Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings. The Hill 'n' Dale stallion, standing for...

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Hit It a Bomb Colt Rolls in KD Juvenile Turf Mile

KENTUCKY DOWNS JUVENILE MILE S., $497,500, Kentucky Downs, 9-6, 2yo, 1mT, 1:35.83, fm. 1--TIZ THE BOMB, 120, c, 2, by Hit It a Bomb                 1st Dam: Tiz the Key, by Tiznow                 2nd Dam: Cabbage Key, by A.P. Indy                 3rd Dam: Mayville's Magic, by Gone West ($330,000 Ylg '20 FTKSEL). 1ST BLACK-TYPE WIN. O-Phoenix Thoroughbred, LTD; B-Spendthrift Farm, LLC (KY); T-Kenneth McPeek; J-Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. $294,500. Lifetime Record: 3-2-0-0, $326,291. *Third stakes winner for second- crop sire (by War Front). 2--Kiss the Sky, 120, c, 2, Twirling...

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The Process: Ken McPeek

With thousands of horses on offer from the top of the market and on down, Keeneland September is unlike any other yearling sale and requires serious hard work and focus to shop effectively. We've caught up with several prominent buyers to find out how they attack the auction from pre-sale preparations and into the two weeks of selling. This first installment features trainer Ken McPeek, whose prowess at finding top athletes for value--often with less fashionable pedigrees--is well documented. Among McPeek's long list of KEESEP finds are Hall of Famer...

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Essential Quality Morning-Line Favorite for Travers

Essential Quality (Tapit) drew post two of seven and was installed the 4-5 morning-line favorite when post positions were drawn Wednesday morning for Saturday's GI Runhappy Travers S. Last year's champion 2-year-old colt rebounded from his lone loss to date, a fourth in the GI Kentucky Derby, to win the June 5 GI Belmont S. and July 31 GII Jim Dandy S. Trainer Brad Cox said the Godolphin homebred has only improved since the Jim Dandy. "He's sharp, mentally," Cox said. "He's sharper this race than going into the Jim...

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Essential Quality Leads Runhappy Travers Breezers

It was a busy morning at Saratoga for 3-year-olds headed towards next Saturday's $1.25-million GI Runhappy Travers S. at Saratoga, headed by GI Belmont S. hero and reigning champion juvenile Essential Quality (Tapit). The 'TDN Rising Star,' ridden by leading jockey Luis Saez, worked outside of stablemate Bonny South (Munnings) and the duo covered five furlongs in 1:01.58 (10/18). The Godolphin homebred was caught in fractions of :11.40, :23.22 and :47.81 before galloping out three-quarters of a mile in 1:15 flat. Juddmonte's enigmatic Bonny South is also scheduled to race...

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McPeek Bullish On Crazy Beautiful In Alabama

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.--Without hesitation, trainer Kenny McPeek used a four-letter word to describe his level of concern about Crazy Beautiful (Liam's Map) entering the GI $600,000 Alabama S. Saturday after missing the GI Coaching Club American Oaks. "None," he said. After the 'TDN Rising Star', owned by Phoenix Thoroughbred III, rebounded from an uncharacteristic poor performance in the GI Longines Kentucky Oaks with a pair of impressive wins, McPeek aimed her for Saratoga's two big races for 3-year-old fillies. That plan was scuttled the evening of opening day, July 15,...

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Trainers React to Navarro Guilty Plea

On Wednesday, disgraced trainer Jorge Navarro pled guilty to one count of distribution of adulterated and misbranded drugs with the intent to defraud and mislead, a major development in the doping scandal that has rocked the sport since indictments were announced in March of 2020. Navarro will likely spend time in prison and has been ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $25,860,514. His career is over and he may be deported to his native Panama. But was this good day or bad day for the sport?  And what...

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Knicks Go Meets Maxfield in Star-Studded Whitney

For a race that offers just a five-horse field, Saturday's GI Whitney S. at Saratoga will nevertheless feature plenty of intrigue, as two of the handicap division's top stars will meet the one-two finishers from the GI Metropolitan H. and a certain champion filly whose trainer called an audible to enter her in the meet centerpiece for older horses, a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the GI Longines Breeders' Cup Classic. Given the morning-line at 6-5 is the Korea Racing Authority's enigmatic star speedball Knicks Go (Paynter). A shocking...

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Fantastic Five For Whitney

A compact, but talented field of five will face the starter for Saturday's GI Whitney S., a 'Win and You're In' qualifier for the GI Breeders' Cup Classic at Del Mar Nov. 6. Korean Racing Authority's Knicks Go (Paynter) has been pegged as the 6-5 morning-line favorite for trainer Brad Cox and jockey Joel Rosario. The 5-year-old is perfect in his last five starts around two turns, including a latest blow-out, big-figure success in the GIII Cornhusker H. at Prairie Meadows July 2. Cox attributes his losses in the Saudi...

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McPeek Contests Decision to Deny His Entries

When his barn at Saratoga was placed under quarantine due to an outbreak of Equine Herpesvirus, trainer Ken McPeek assumed his horses would be allowed to race starting Aug.1, the day the quarantine was due to be lifted. Instead, none of his entries for the Aug. 1, 4 and 5 cards were accepted because, McPeek was told, the horses were still under quarantine at the time entries were taken. While it is too late to get his horses entered into the upcoming cards in question, McPeek, through his attorney Drew...

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This Side Up: Overcrowding One Weekend, Isolation The Next

No man an island, huh? Not so sure about that, after the last year or so, when even a family household has sometimes felt like a peninsula at best. So, the very last thing anyone wanted on returning to Saratoga, after being denied its unique balm of fellowship last year, was to hear "the Q word" yet again. A 21-day quarantine for horses stabled in Barn 86, after one of Jorge Abreu's fillies tested positive to EHV-1, must have felt like Groundhog Day for Abreu and neighbor Kenny McPeek. Here...

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