Todays Profile logo

There have been few more talked about horse racing trainers in the world so far in 2024 than Kenneth McPeek. The 61-year-old made history in early May after winning the Kentucky Derby with Mystik Dan.

It was the first time that the trainer had landed victory in the race, and he has now clocked up over 2,000 race wins, including 21 victories in Grade One races. The trainer will be looking to build on this early-season promise throughout the campaign, and you can learn more about his life in the sport here.

Early Life

McPeek’s victory in the Kentucky Derby would have been the success that he had always dreamed of, as he was born and raised just a stones throw away from Churchill Downs in Lexington. The trainer also attended the University of Kentucky, achieving a Bachelor of Arts in Business. However, his love for horses continued throughout his early life, and he quickly took out a license to train runners on the track in 1985.

Success would quickly be achieved by McPeek on the track, as he landed a first winner at Belterra Park in October of the same year with Final Destroyer. However, he wouldn’t make his breakthrough in stakes company until 1991 when he trained a winner at Canterbury Park. A first graded winner would later be achieved at Keeneland three years later, as Her Temper scored victory in the Beaumont Stakes.

1,000th Winner And Big Race Wins

A memorable milestone was reached by McPeek in 2009, as he landed a 1,000th race win at Churchill Downs. A 2,000th winner was achieved in February 2024 at Turfway Park. Throughout his career as a trainer, he has worked with some of the most talented runners that we have seen on track, which has seen him earn prize money in the region of $124 million.

McPeek’s big breakthrough at the top level of the sport would arrive in 2002, as he racked up his first three victories in Grade One company. The first of those came in March, with Harlan’s Holiday upsetting the odds to land the Florida Derby. Take Charge Lady would quickly add a second Grade One success in April when landing the Ashland Stakes.

However, his most memorable winner of the year would come in shocking fashion at the Belmont Stakes. All the attention was on War Emblem and his hunt for Triple Crown success, but McPeek’s Sarava got up late to upset the champion to score at odds of 70/1.

Now with Mystik Dan apparently competing in Preakness and Belmont we might see a Triple Crown bid. Check the 2024 Belmont Stakes betting guide for more information.

Esteemed Buying Record

As well as being an esteemed trainer of big-race winners, McPeek has also shown a keen-eye for talent in the sales rings after buying a number of high-quality horses throughout his life for a modest price that have gone on to win top prizes. Tejano Run was brought by McPeek for just $20,000 in 1993, and he would later go on to win or place in a number of prestigious stakes races. Among those included a second in the 1995 Kentucky Derby.

Tejano Run wasn’t the only talented colt brought by McPeek in the same sale, as he would later purchase a colt sired by Smart Strike for $57,000 in 2005. The runner would be known as Curlin, and was a two-time American Horse of the Year. McPeek would later pick up another memorable buy in 2018 after purchasing Swiss Skydiver, who would later make history by winning the 2020 edition of the Preakness Stakes.

Training Facilities

McPeek purchased the 115-acre Pillar Stud Farm in 2006, before renaming it as the Magdalena Farm in honor of the original Matriach of the land. The office at the establishment is the base for McPeek Racing, as well as Horse Races Now. At any given time, 150 horses are housed at the prestigious location, ranging from those in active competition, and runners that are being broken in. As well as active racers, the location also handles mares and foals, ensuring that Magdalena covers all stages of a horse’s career on track.

McPeek has built on the success of his first location by buying Silverleaf Training Center in Florida. He made the purchase in 2009, and it is home to six furlong tracks, as well as 24-stall barns and four paddocks. When horses are brought, they spend their time at Magdalena, before being moved to Silverleaf when they are aged two.

Leading McPeek Horses

McPeek has achieved huge success throughout his training career, with his current top earner coming in the form of recently crowned Kentucky Derby champion Mystik Dan.

Take Charge Lady is also among the highest earners for the trainer, having won over $2.4 million in prize money. Other top performers that have been trained by McPeek include Swiss Skydiver, Rattle N Roll, and Daddys Lil Darling.

Related Posts