Trainer McPeek wins four, both stakes, on all juvy-day

After a close loss in the Oaklawn Stakes, trainer Ken McPeek counted down his near miss at Hot Springs, saying:

With fresh eyes, popular trainers can look around and see their fortunes change locally. Starting off as a mare Swiss skydiver in 2020’s Grade 3 Fantasy, throwing a Dash Attack at last year’s Smarty Jones, and then dedicating an entire chapter to Oaklawn’s New Year’s Eve.

The Arkansas-born (Fort Chaffee) trainer had four victories on his first youth-only card on the track the year he turned 60. Highlighters were the second inaugural stake worth $150,000 with the colt Frosted Departure in the Renaissance and the mare Defining Purpose in the Year’s End. David Cabrera, who rode three winners at McPeek, had a defining moment winning his first regional riding title despite a late-season injury.

McPeek, who welcomed Kentucky’s long run on the backstretch, only missed out on Kid’s Last Laugh in the second race and Interlock Empire in the tenth race. The maidens took two wins, the fourth to Into Mischief colt Sun Thunder ($4.20) and the eighth to the mare Dear Lady ($11). Her wife Sherri McPeek raced three winners with her Magdalena Racing group.

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Like its adjectives, Defining Purpose scored an easy victory and Frosted Departure were furious.

The latter punted the clock after six furlongs in a time of 1:10.91, probably exchanging paint in the upper section with the unlucky second Two Eagles River. Trainer Wayne Lukas’ Saratoga maiden winner Bourbon Bash finished third, while Count de Monet, an undefeated winner at Opening Day Advent, finished fourth.

The Frosted Departure showed “no late punches” when they finished fourth at Advent at 7-1. His price has risen slightly from the Renaissance and his confidence will skyrocket. The Frosted Departure paid $21.20 in his ninth start since making his Churchill Downs debut on July 2 and picked up his second outing maiden victory at Ellis Park.

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With the winner by 9 1/4 lengths from Churchill against “the non-winner of the two”, the Frosted Departure found itself on the conveyor belt of stake racing. Presumptive youth champion Forte’s early appearances at Keeneland were enough to shift the focus to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, where trainee Todd Pletcher won at the same track.

With Francisco Arrieta holding the mount, Frosted Departure was tested for class as Two Eagles River pressed home trouble on the outside. The latter is a cloud-computing gelding trained by Chris Hartman, which slowly fell apart but was acquired on the turn, briefly creating a three-way battle with Count de Monet.

Arrieta went to work on the inside and Nik Juarez never gave up attempting an outside pass on Two Eagles River. The latter will probably shed some light on $250,000 Smarty Jones, whose Victory Formation favorite in the program beat Two Eagles River by a neck in a Churchill allowance sprint.

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Cross Traffic’s Defining Purpose received “sharp” notices from chart callers after winning by 5 1/4 lengths in 1:39.23. Going 2-1 early, the favorite made a strong move on the second turn, paying out $6, $3.60 and $2.80. Unifying was runner-up by young trainer Riley Mott, while Take Charge Briana was runner-up by Wayne Lukas and late Arkansas owner Willis. Horton.

The other winning trainers on the card, in order, were Norm Casse, Hartman, Ron Moquett, Dan Peitz, Steve Asmussen and Brad Cox.

Picture Frosted Departure (2) battles Two Eagles River for the win in the $150,000 Renaissance Stakes at Oaklawn on Saturday. -Photo courtesy of Cody Photography


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