A Tale of Two Horses on the Road to the Kentucky Derby


Kenny McPeek (photo via YouTube).

It’s an enviable position to be in.

Kenny McPeek has two graded stakes-winning colts that are moving along the Derby trail with just the right momentum.

Signalman and Harvey Wallbanger have both made a strong impression, earning points toward being part of the field for the 145th Kentucky Derby, with the son of General Quarters having accumulated 12 points and the son of Congrats earning 10 for his victory in the Grade 2 Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull Stakes, Feb. 2.

Both horses have demonstrated professionalism.

“They’re different types,” said McPeek. “Harvey Wallbanger is a smaller type horse. He probably favors Distorted Humor [his dam’s sire] on the bottom side. At the sale, I don’t recall any particular reason why he only brought $50,000. He was a handy, well-made, very compact, good mover. He puts his head down and does what you ask him to do, no problem.”

Signalman, the more accomplished of the two horses, scored a Grade 1 win in the Kentucky Club Jockey Club Stakes on Nov. 24, placed second in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) last October and ran third in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on Nov. 2. The bay son of General Quarters has yet to race in 2019.

“Signalman is a much bigger colt, he’s a big, tall, long-type of horse, much heavier and more powerful than Harvey Wallbanger, who’s more of a finesse horse,” said McPeek.

Both horses were broken at McPeek’s Magdalena farm in Kentucky. Kenneth and Sherri McPeek retained approximately 10 percent ownership in both horses.

“It’s a program that I’ve used on a lot of horses for years,” said McPeek. “Restless Rider’s also similar. We send a group of them every year to Ocala that will go to Abracadabra Farm as well.”

It’s a process that has yielded optimal results, where it provides the horses an opportunity to prove themselves, to demonstrate whether they have high-level talent.

“We all know it’s a game, you’re up against it, and if you can buy 10, 15, 20 percent stakes horses at auction and then develop them out correctly, than you’re beating the business pretty well,” said McPeek. “Every year we get a nice, solid number of young horses that end up doing something in the graded stakes realm. Then, the average horses, we work on getting claimed — and, obviously, people can race those on the secondary circuits.”