Thorpedo Anna Strikes Again in Acorn

Thorpedo Anna | Sarah Andrew

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY–It didn't seem possible for trainer Kenny McPeek to be any more confident in his filly, 'TDN Rising Star' Thorpedo Anna (Fast Anna), as he was prior to her win in the GI Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs five weeks ago. But a short chat with the Kentucky-based trainer earlier in the week spoke volumes as to her ability to repeat in Friday's GI DK Horse Acorn S. Giving the afternoon's 27,529-strong crowd no real cause for concern at any point during the race, she unleashed a tour-de-force display to land in Saratoga's winner's circle after a facile 5 1/2-length victory over fellow 'Rising Star' Leslie's Rose (Into Mischief).

Displaying a dance of simmering power in the paddock prior to the nine-furlong race, the bay appeared to project exactly what McPeek had been saying all week about the filly–a 'beast' that could have been a force to be reckoned with in the GI Belmont S. one day later. However, given the presence of GI Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan (Goldencents) in Saturday's big race, it didn't seem to make sense to fire both of his big shots in the same race.

“I think my first thought [after the Acorn] was, 'Dang, I could have run her in the Belmont,'” laughed McPeek. “I really felt I could have. She makes it easy.”

According to regular pilot Brian Hernandez, Jr., the filly has developed a bit of a reputation for getting worked up prior to her races, but has also shown that she is starting to put it all together with experience.

“She gets a little nervous [before her races],” he said. “But with each race, she has gotten better about things. On the racetrack, we have learned that if we just take her by herself and leave her with just her and her pony, she settles right in and just soaks it all in and goes back into her routine. She is just the type of filly that is so competitive, I believe, that she just wants to show how good she is. We've got to get her to just take a deep breath and get her settled back in.”

Breaking sharply from her outside post, the 3-4 favorite rushed into contention, settling just off the outer hip of last year's champion juvenile filly Just F Y I (Justify), who atypically cruised to the front and carved out an opening quarter in :23.53. The duo kept up the tempo through a half in :46.75 as GI Ashland S. winner Leslie's Rose and GII Black-Eyed Susan victress Gun Song (Gun Runner) kept the leading pair in their sights. Starting to press the issue approaching the home turn, Thorpedo Anna cornered like a Ferrari, spurted clear in upper stretch and poured in on late, stretching her advantage under another confident hand ride by Hernandez. Leslie's Rose was a clear second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of the closing Power Squeeze (Union Rags). Just F Y I, runner-up in the Kentucky Oaks, faded to sixth as the clear second favorite at odds of 3-1.

Thorpedo Anna, owned by Nader Alaali, Mark Edwards, Judy Hicks and Magdalena Racing, became the 14th filly to register the Acorn-Kentucky Oaks double and the second consecutive year after Pretty Mischievous (Into Mischief) accomplished the feat in 2023 at Belmont Park.

“She's an amazing filly,” said Hernandez. “Just F Y I kind of surprised me by going to the lead, but my filly is such a good filly that she just settled right off of her outside and we got to the second turn. She was traveling so beautifully. For her to go :46 and change like she did again, she doesn't feel like she's going that quick. She just is doing it effortlessly with her ears up.

“We turned for home and I reached back and I slapped her one time, because she was kind of messing around a little bit, I didn't want someone to really run at her and jump on her, once I did that, I was like 'OK, we are in good order now. She is going to cruise home from here.'”

McPeek was equally taken aback by the early pace scenario.

“I was surprised, yes [that Just F Y I went to the lead], and I was also surprised that she [Thorpedo Anna] took him [Hernandez] there,” admitted McPeek. “That's what she does. She's got :47 and change speed. She can get you there. She makes my job easy and his job easy.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who saddled runner-up Leslie's Rose, was upbeat about his charge's defeat.

“I thought she ran super,” he said. “She had a good trip and kept trying to the wire. She was just second best to a really good filly today.”

He continued, “We were in the spot we wanted to be in. I was hoping [the frontrunners] would engage each other a little more. The winner was very settled outside. I thought for a moment we had a shot, but that other filly kicked clear. Our filly kept trying to the wire. We were happy to get [her back running well after a 13th-place finish in the Oaks]. I'm happy with her effort.”

Of Just F Y I, jockey Junior Alvarado said, “I wanted to take a shot and go to the front. I didn't want to sit off [Thorpedo Anna] again. I had to try something different. I am a little disappointed. I didn't think she ran her race. She didn't necessarily have to win, but she didn't fire at all today.

“When we switched leads at the half-mile pole, I was already completely empty. It was too early to be empty with her. That's when she usually turns her game on. She wasn't traveling well after that and wasn't taking me anywhere. She's a push-button horse, so when she didn't give me anything, I tried to regroup and go back again and didn't get any response, it wasn't necessary to keep pushing on her. You just try to save her for next time.”

Despite the ease of Friday's victory, McPeek later admitted that the week leading up to the race wasn't without its anxious moments.

“Pre-race, for some reason and I don't know how it happened, she got this little bitty cut on the left side of her mouth,” he explained. “It happened within the last couple of days. It's never easy, this game. I told Brian he was going to have to be really light with her because you don't want to get in any wrestling match because she's got a little cut. On a scale of 10 it was like a one or a two, but if you get to wrestling with her you're going to open it up. So I was watching her real close with that. Brian said she never felt it.”

Thorpedo Anna showed her talent early, scoring by an impressive 8 1/2-length margin in an auction-price restricted maiden at Keeneland last October before proving it was no fluke with an equally impressive nine-length score going a mile at Churchill Downs Nov. 10. Earning 'Rising Star' status in the latter, she made a quick turnaround for the Nov. 25 GII Golden Rod S. and had to settle for second, beaten 5 1 /4 lengths by Intricate. Freshened through the winter, she resumed with a confident four-length win in Oaklawn's GII Fantasy S. over 1 1/16 miles Mar. 30 prior to her romp at Churchill in May.

McPeek believes there is little doubt as to who leads the current sophomore filly division, given the nature of her two Grade I wins.

“That was one of our goals coming into the race was to stamp her as the best 3-year-old in America,” he said. “Whether we take on the colts [later] will be fun and it will be interesting. I'll probably tease you all with what I'm thinking about. We'll see. If she's doing really well and she came back in the [GI] Coaching Club [Oaks], and Mystik Dan didn't make the GI Travers S., then who knows? You might see us here. But I'm not going to run them against each other if I can help it.”

Hernandez was a bit more sentimental about what his recent dream run means.

“I believe we have a superstar on our hands,” he said. “Those are put in a rare air, but she seems to be one of those fillies. When the announcer calls you brilliant in a Grade I, you know it tends to make you believe that you are a part of something really magical. Something really special.”

Pedigree Notes:

Thorpedo Anna was bred by Judy Hicks, who took on the mare as a charitable act and later stayed in for a piece of the filly.

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

Sanford Robertson campaigned Thorpedo Anna's third dam Aldebaran Light to three wins from five starts at River Downs and went on to breed successfully from her. Robertson campaigned Aldebaran Light's foal of 2001, a Stravinsky colt named Balmont, to a victory (via DQ) in the 2003 G1 Middle Park S. for trainer Jeremy Noseda, while Eskendereya (Giant's Causeway) helped to further enhance the family with victories in the 2010 GI Wood Memorial S. and GII Fountain of Youth S.

Thorpedo Anna is the second foal out of the 9-year-old Sataves. The first, Charlee O (Tonalist) earned over $100,000 on the track. Thorpedo Anna was purchased by McPeek for $40,000 at the Fasig-Tipton October yearling sale in 2022. Sataves is also the dam of the 2-year-old colt McAfee (Cloud Computing), a $40,000 purchase by Maddie Mattmiller Keeneland last September, and the daughter of Uncle Mo foaled a filly by Known Agenda–already named After the Storm–earlier this year.

 

 

Friday, Saratoga
DK HORSE ACORN S.-GI, $500,000, Saratoga, 6-7, 3yo, f, 1 1/8m, 1:49.02, ft.
1–THORPEDO ANNA, 122, 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
'TDN Rising Star'. ($40,000 Ylg '22 FTKOCT). O-Nader Alaali,
Mark Edwards, Judy B. Hicks and Magdalena Racing (Sherri
McPeek); B-Judy Hicks (KY); T-Kenneth G. McPeek; J-Brian
Joseph Hernandez, Jr. $275,000. Lifetime Record: 6-5-1-0,
$1,705,663. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Leslie's Rose, 120, f, 3, by Into Mischief
                1st Dam: Wildwood Rose (Ire), by Galileo (Ire)
                2nd Dam: Wildwood Flower, by Langfuhr
                3rd Dam: Dial a Trick, by Phone Trick
'TDN Rising Star'. ($1,150,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP). O-Whisper Hill
Farm, LLC; B-John D. Gunther & Eurowest Bloodstock Services
(KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $100,000.
3–Power Squeeze, 120, f, 3, by Union Rags
                1st Dam: Callmethesqueeze (MSW, $324,499),
                                by Awesome Again
                2nd Dam: Mop Squeezer, by Roanoke
                3rd Dam: Honey League Girl, by Honey Jay
1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. ($50,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP; $90,000 2yo '23
OBSAPR). O-Lea Farms, LLC; B-Forging Oaks LLC (KY); T-Jorge
Delgado. $60,000.
Margins: 5HF, 1 1/4, 2HF. Odds: 0.75, 6.30, 25.50.
Also Ran: My Mane Squeeze, Regulatory Risk, Just F Y I, Where's My Ring, Gun Song. Scratched: Becky's Joker
Click for the Equibase.com chart and the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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