Kenny McPeek is bringing a strong team to Churchill Downs on Saturday for the ‘Stars of Tomorrow II’ card.
The trainer has 13 declared runners at the meeting and hopes to be leaving with his share of success.
Simply Ravishing is already a Grade 1 winner and goes for the $200,000 Golden Rod on Saturday, while stakes winner King Fury is entered in the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club, both Grade 2 events.
Simply Ravishing tasted top-level success via the Ashland earlier in the campaign and, most recently, finished fourth in the $2m Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland at the start of this month.
McPeek was content with that run, he says, given things didn’t go to plan from the outset. Simply Ravishing has drawn post No. 8 with Robby Albarado in the saddle and is installed as favourite for the Golden Rod.
“I thought she ran a great race [at the Breeders’ Cup], considering how it shaped up early,” McPeek said. “She didn’t break well at all and had a tough trip the entire way around there. I think it was very promising the way she finished up, considering the problems she had.”
King Fury is targeting the Kentucky Jockey Club prize and McPeek can arrive full of confidence with the Street Sense winner bidding to continue his love-affair with the track.
His form at Churchill Downs is noticeably better at this stage, says his trainer, who has also chosen to deploy first-time headgear on Saturday.
“He’s 2-for-2 at Churchill Downs, so we know he really likes it here,” McPeek said. “We’ve added blinkers to him in hopes to get him to the next level. I think they could add to his focus and really get him there. His only two blemishes came at Keeneland, so we’re excited to get him back to Churchill.”
Since the Stars of Tomorrow II programme was introduced 14 years ago, McPeek has laid claim to a dozen individual race wins. He has enjoyed successes in both the Golden Rod and the Kentucky Jockey Club before.
He won the 2010 Golden Rod with Kathballu and finished second in last year’s race with the 200 Preakness heroine Swiss Skydiver. Meanwhile, Signalman gave him victory in the 2018 Kentucky Jockey Club over the one-mile-half-a-furlong trip.
King Fury’s is trading around the 6/1 mark for the Kentucky Jockey Club with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile third Keepmeinmind holding favouritism amongst a field of nine.