Trainer Kenny McPeek, whose horses traditionally race on the Kentucky and Florida circuits with a summer base in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., will maintain a full-time barn at Belmont Park starting this fall.
The Lexington-based horseman said a string of approximately 20 runners is slated to begin training at Belmont once the Saratoga meet concludes Sept. 5. His decision was fueled by the influx of expanded gaming revenue about to hit the New York purses and state-bred programs from the installation of a video lottery terminal casino at Aqueduct Race Track.
“Thanks to the VLTs going into Aqueduct and the uncertain state of racing in Kentucky beyond Keeneland and Churchill, I’ve bought some New York-breds and I have several coming to me,” said McPeek. “It’s a necessity. New York racing will be stronger thanks to the changes they’ve made, the expanded gaming, and the purses at Turfway are too small. We can’t stay at a high level by going back to Turfway in September. It’s unfortunate, but that’s a fact.”
The trainer was at the Fasig-Tipton Sale of New York-bred Preferred Yearlings in Saratoga Aug. 13-14, where he purchased a $60,000 daughter of First Defense-Cherished Trick, consigned by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, agent.
“I’m always hunting value, anyway,” he said. “I think this stallion has a chance to be a decent filly sire and the filly looked the part, as I like to say – all the right parts in all the right places. I bought her for a New York client.”
McPeek said some of his top-flight runners – horses like Kathmanblu, Noble's Promise , and Rogue Romance – could join the string in New York this fall.
“Those horses need to be at an ‘A’ circuit,” he remarked. “We’ll leave a division up in New York to run at Belmont and Aqueduct, and continue on to Keeneland as we have in the past. I’m excited.”