Solid Works and No Worries for McPeek Duo
The trainer said the maintenance works were just what his two contenders needed and he wasn't looking "for anything fancy."
Weather did change the plans a bit. McPeek had intended to work the two colts a day later because the track was holding races Saturday night so the main track would have been harrowed a couple of times, which he said he thought it needed. The weather forecast for Louisville, however, is a 70% chance of rain from Saturday night through Sunday morning.
"If it came up sloppy, then I would have regretted that," McPeek said. "They got a good breeze; they just needed a little air put into them. If we can just maintain how they've been in the last starts, with a little improvement. We didn't need to do anything fancy."
The two horses couldn't be more different. Frac Daddy is a big-bodied colt capable of flashing early speed. Java's War is a smaller, more serious colt that takes his time getting rolling but can close a lot of ground when he does.
Frac Daddy, a dark gray son of Scat Daddy —Skipper's Mate, by Skip Away, is owned by Magic City Thoroughbred Partners. Bred in Kentucky by the Nancy M. Leonard Living Trust, he is coming into the May 4 Kentucky Derby off a second-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) for jockey Victor Lebron.
Java's War comes into the Derby off an eye-popping last-to-first run in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland April 13 under jockey Julian Leparoux, who is keeping the mount. Charles Fipke bred and owns the son of War Pass—Java, by Rainbow Quest.
The first part of the year didn't go that smoothly for Frac Daddy. He tore a chunk out of his hoof in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 26 and was laid up for several weeks. He also got a viral infection that caused some ulcers in his throat.
Frac Daddy's next start came in the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I), which McPeek said he knew would be a tall order off the long layoff. Frac Daddy finished seventh in the 10-horse field.
"Wheeling him right back (in the Arkansas Derby) was good for him because he is a horse that needs to run," McPeek said. "I gave Victor instructions to keep him outside because I want to keep his face clear; he tends to get upset when he gets a bunch of dirt in his face, though he handled it just fine in the fall last year. For some reason this year, he hasn't handled adversity."
When asked how Frac Daddy would handle the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field, McPeek said the colt has enough early speed to stay out of trouble.
"It will be simple for Victor; just let him roll," said McPeek. "He has enough speed to be near the pace, then he's got less to overcome and deal with. I think the point system has kept some of the speed horses out, so I expect the pace to be more reasonable—the current form is more important. I think that can be positive."
Also, Frac Daddy has had earlier success at Churchill Downs. The colt broke his maiden by 9 3/4 lengths in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Churchill last November. In his next start he finished a close second to Uncaptured in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II).
"He's fine now and he likes this racetrack, so our timing is really good."
Java's War has only made two starts this year but he's made each one count. The bay colt finished second by three lengths to Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) after trailing for most of the 1 1/16-mile race. McPeek said he had a good idea Java's Gold would shine in the Blue Grass. The colt had finished third on the Keeneland Polytrack in the Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) last October, and there was no speed in the race.
"He has a world of class," McPeek said. "That race was pretty special, it was tough with 14 horses. He doesn't have early speed but he just keeps coming."
Java's Gold has only been out of the money two times out of seven lifetime starts.
For the rest of the week, McPeek said he is going to focus on the things he has control over and not worry about the rest.
"As long as they eat up, I'm not worried," he said.
Ken McPeek talks about Frac Daddy and Java's War:
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