Bobby Zen

For trainer Kenny McPeek it was an unforgettable weekend. He struck first with Thorpedo Anna (Fast Anna) in the GI Kentucky Oaks and came back the next day to win the GI Kentucky Derby with Mystik Dan (Goldencents). McPeek became the first trainer since Plain Ben Jones in 1952 to win both the Oaks and Derby the same year.

How did he pull it off? What’s next for Mystik Dan? Why was he so confident before each race? Those were among the questions our panel asked McPeek when he appeared on this week’s edition of the TDN Writers’ Room Podcast, presented by Keeneland.

McPeek, who said he received over 2,000 text messages following the Derby win, was this week’s Green Group Guest of the Week.

He was so confident in Mystik Dan’s chances that he thought the colt could win the Derby by open lengths.

“I told my wife Sherri before the race that it wouldn’t surprise me if he won by four or five lengths,” he said. “I expected to win. I really did.”

And where was that confidence coming from?

“In the Arkansas Derby, he got mugged in that turn,” he said. “You can’t really see it because there’s no head-on angle. But Brian [Hernandez, Jr.] nearly got knocked off the horse and he felt that cost him four or five lengths. We wanted to win the Arkansas Derby, but it just didn’t happen. We drew outside in the race and we drew inside for the Derby and we knew he’d love an inside trip. I bet more on him on Saturday than I bet on any horse in my life.”

While Mystik Dan is a homebred, Thorpedo Anna was a McPeek special, just one more bargain buy that turned into a star. She was bought for just $40,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall yearling sale.

“I love looking at the horses, looking at their pedigree and how they are made and how they race,” he said. “I like to look at their angles. I believe horses are like constellations, stars in the sky. If you look at the angles, there are patterns. You have to envision how they are made and what they will do on the racetrack. As a young trainer, I used to be so frustrated because I would get all these average horses. I wanted horses that were fast enough to compete with Wayne Lukas, Todd Pletcher, Nick Zito, all those guys with great horses. If you can’t beat them with your budget, you have to beat them with your brain. This whole sport is a big chess match. It’s cerebral. You have to plot and plan and know how to move around the board. You can’t just throw money at it. That’s been proven. You have to outsmart the people who have all the money.”

McPeek wasn’t the only man of the hour. Brian Hernandez, Jr. was aboard both Thorpedo Anna and Mystik Dans and his rail-skimming ride in the Derby was one for the ages.

“I’ve said repeatedly that he’s the consummate professional,” McPeek said. “There’s nothing complicated about Brian. He comes in with a smile on his face and an even keel. I’ve never had a cross word with him and never will. He loves to come breeze the horses. He’ll be there at 5:15, no problem.”

In our breeding spotlight section we took a look at the WinStar stallion Audible and the Coolmore stallion Jack Christopher

The TDN Writers’ Room podcast is also sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders’ Association, Coolmore, West Point Thoroughbreds, WinStar, the KTOB, 1/ST Racing and XBTV.com.

Among the primary topics covered by the team of Randy Moss, Zoe Cadman and Bill Finley was the failure of the Churchill Downs stewards to post an inquiry and take a look at the bumping during the stretch run between Sierra Leone (Gun Runner) and Forever Young (Jpn) (Real Steel {Jpn}). Moss was particularly critical of the stewards’ failure to take action.

“The stewards let [Churchill Downs] down big time. Big time,” Moss said. “That there was no inquiry either meant that the stewards were incompetent or that it was a calculated move. I think it was probably the latter. That was an elementary school DQ. They don’t get any more obvious than that. They dropped the ball in so many ways.”

The team also reviewed the Kentucky Oaks and the GI La Troienne S. The La Troienne winner was Idiomatic (Curlin), who picked right up where she left off last year when winning an Eclipse Award as the nation’s top older dirt mare. Finley declared that, regardless of sex or age, Idiomatic is the best horse in the sport.

To watch the Writers’ Room, click here. To view the show as a podcast, click here.

The post Kenny McPeek Joins the TDN Writers’ Room Podcast appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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