McPeek Gearing Up for Start of Oaklawn Meet
Trainer Kenny McPeek is again splitting his stable this winter, but this time it’s a different split. Instead of having his main division in Florida, McPeek will be based at Oaklawn Park and will personally oversee his 26-horse string.
McPeek also has nine horses at Sam Houston Race Park, where he is planning to run his turf runners. In previous years, McPeek’s main string has been based at Gulfstream Park near Miami, with a smaller division in Hot Springs.
“Logistically, it’s going to be a lot easier for us to run them here, run them there,” McPeek said. “I sold a lot of my cheaper horses, which, for me, is a good thing. We’ve got some nice quality.”
Several McPeek horses could be active in stakes competition during the 2015 meeting, including The Truth Or Else (3-year-old male division), Pangburn (3-year-old fillies) and Flashy American (older fillies and mares).
The Truth Or Else faced some of the country’s top 2-year-olds in New York, finishing third in the $500,000 Champagne Stakes (G1) Oct. 4 at Belmont Park and the $250,000 Nashua Stakes (G2) Nov. 2 at Aqueduct.
McPeek said The Truth Or Else, a son of Yes It’s True, arrived Tuesday at Oaklawn following a 30-day break. “I’m sure he’s Arkansas Derby – in the long run – if he’s good enough,” he said.
Pangburn, a daughter of Congrats owned by Arkansas lumberman John Ed Anthony, won her career debut before finishing second in her only other lifetime start – the $200,000 Pocahontas Stakes (G2) Sept. 6 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The fifth-place finisher in the Pocahontas, Take Charge Brandi, later won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and is a likely Eclipse Award winner.
“She’s a nice filly,” McPeek said of Pangburn. He said the filly will likely make her 2015 debut in an entry-level allowance race. Oaklawn’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies is the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 4.
Flashy American, a multiple stakes winner of $663,183, is receiving a little break, McPeek said, after finishing ninth as the favorite in the $100,000 She’s All In Handicap Dec. 14 at Remington Park in Oklahoma City.
“She didn’t ship well for the Remington race,” McPeek said. Flashy American ran sixth in the 2014 Azeri Stakes (G2), before rebounding to win the Sixty Sails Handicap (G3) at Hawthorne.
“I gave a lot my horses part of the month off,” McPeek said. “So timing wise, this is a pretty good meet for us.”
McPeek said he plans to use newcomer Chris Landeros on many of his horses, along with Shane Laviolette.
McPeek had a 7-4-11 record from 52 starters at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting.
Fires Making Plans
Two candidates for the Fantasy Stakes, both trained by Jinks Fires, could be seen opening weekend. Fires said he may run the seasoned Simply Confection in the $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes Jan. 9 at 6 furlongs, “although she wants to go long” and he also plans to run I’m Extraordinary in an entry-level allowance race.
A daughter of Candy Ride, Simply Confection ran eight times in 2014, highlighted by a runner-up finish going a mile in the $58,000 Rags to Riches Stakes Oct. 26 at Churchill Downs. I’m Extraordinary, by Rock Hard Ten, broke her maiden Nov. 9 at Churchill Downs and recorded two published workouts in December at Oaklawn.
Fires said one of his most promising 2-year-old colts, Bo Talon, is “50-50” to run again after suffering a leg injury during a routine gallop earlier this month.
The trainer said X-rays revealed a fractured sesamoid bone. Fires said Bo Talon didn’t undergo surgery, and his condition will be re-evaluated in “2-3 months.”
“That was my hope for the big races,” Fires said. “He was something.”
Bo Talon, from the first crop of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, broke his maiden Nov. 15 at Churchill Downs.
There were 1,319 horses on the grounds Wednesday morning. Among the latest arrivals were horses for trainers Lynn Whiting, Tony Dutrow, Mike Stidham, Steve Margolis and Ingrid Mason. … The track will be closed for training Thursday in observance of New Year’s Day. … Following a lengthy freshening, multiple stakes winner Smack Smack should be ready to run during the latter part of the 2015 meeting, trainer Don Von Hemel said. Smack Smack, a 3-year-old Closing Argument gelding campaigned by country music superstar Toby Keith, missed the 2014 Oaklawn meeting because of a quarter-crack and hasn’t started since finishing fifth in an allowance/optional claimer July 26 at Prairie Meadows in Iowa.