June 24, 2024

Thorpedo Anna splashes to convincing Kentucky Oaks score

Thorpedo Anna wins the Kentucky Oaks (Photo by Rickelle Nelson/Horsephotos.com)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Entering this historic weekend of racing at Churchill Downs, both the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) had proven elusive prizes for Kentucky-born trainer Kenny McPeek. He can now put a checkmark beside the Oaks after Thorpedo Anna‘s convincing score in the 150th edition of the 1 1/8-mile fixture for three-year-old fillies on Friday, with his and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.’s shot at the Derby still to come on Saturday with Mystik Dan.

Breaking well from post 4, Thorpedo Anna spurted to gain position along the rail and then grabbed the lead entering the clubhouse turn. She maintained a narrow advantage down the backside, all the while setting honest splits of :22.87, :46.79, and 1:11.75.

“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,” Hernandez said. “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.”

Around the far turn Ways and Means advanced into second, with Just F Y I, last year’s juvenile champion and the 7-2 Oaks favorite, poised to pounce from third. However, after entering the stretch, Thorpedo Anna opened up on her pursuers and drew away in the end to win by 4 3/4 lengths in sloppy going.

“I was able to enjoy the roar of the crowd for a few jumps,” Hernandez said. “And then when I called on her, she responded and just ran away from them.”

Thorpedo Anna covered nine furlongs in 1:50.83 and returned $10.98 as the 4-1 second choice in the field of 14. Just F Y I finished second, three lengths ahead of Regulatory Risk, who had 2 3/4 lengths on Chad Brown stablemate Ways and Means. The order of finish was rounded out by Everland, Power Squeeze, Into Champagne, Lemon Muffin, Tarifa, Where’s My Ring, Our Pretty Woman, Gin Gin, Leslie’s Rose, and Fiona’s Magic.

Thorpedo Anna is owned by the partnership of Brookdale Racing, Mark Edwards, breeder Judy Hicks, and Sherri McPeek’s Magdalena Racing. Hicks sold Thorpedo Anna for $40,000 as a Fasig-Tipton October yearling, but remained in the partnership created by McPeek. Sherri McPeek is the trainer’s wife.

Kenny McPeek had run second in the Oaks three times previously, with multi-millionaire and prolific broodmare Take Charge Lady (2002), Daddys Lil Darling (2017), and Swiss Skydiver in the 2020 edition run in September. Swiss Skydiver later won the COVID-delayed Preakness (G1) over Kentucky Derby winner and Horse of the Year Authentic.

“We work our tail off. And the seconds were a little frustrating,” McPeek said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we bought her. And a couple of the others we have run in the race, I bought at auction.

“You just work at it, and you work at it, and you try to figure out what kind of formula it’s going to take to come up with a horse that can win races like these. It’s come together today.”

The Oaks was the fourth win in five starts for Thorpedo Anna. She won her first two starts, an auction maiden at Keeneland and an entry-level allowance at Churchill, by a combined 17 1/2 lengths. However, wheeled back two weeks later into the Golden Rod (G2), Thorpedo Anna fell 5 1/4 lengths short of Intricate while earning place honors.

Her season debut delayed due by a hip bruise, Thorpedo Anna turned in her only Oaks prep in the March 30 Fantasy (G2) at Oaklawn Park, a race she dominated by four lengths. Thorpedo Anna has now earned more than $1.43 million.

Bred in Kentucky, Thorpedo Anna is by Fast Anna and out of Sataves, a daughter of Uncle Mo. This is the family of the Grade/Group 1-winning half-brothers Eskendereya and Balmont.