Trainer Kenny McPeek * Photo by Susan Lustig McPeek
Texas horsemen are optimistic that the Texas Racing Commission will grant approval of the addition of Historical Racing Machines at Texas racetracks in their upcoming August meeting, and that possibility has already attracted the attention of leading trainer Kenny McPeek, who recently announced he plans to have a string of horses at Sam Houston Race Park.
McPeek has been following the progress of Historical Racing Machines in Texas and is making a significant change to his 2015 circuit. His goal for the first part of the year is to divide his string between Oaklawn Park and Sam Houston, shipping 30-40 horses to Texas in December for training. Sam Houston’s meet opens in January 2015.
Since 1985, the 51-year-old conditioner has saddled 8,942 starters, winning 1,377 races and amassing earnings of $61 million. His stakes winners include Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Sarava and numerous other major stakes winners including Tejano Run, Harlan’s Holiday, Hard Buck (Brz), Repent, Take Charge Lady and Einstein. McPeek was born in Arkansas and his McPeek Racing is based in Lexington, Kentucky. In addition to managing his stable, McPeek created HorseRacesNow (www.horseracesnow.com), an app for iPhone and Android which gives racing enthusiasts a wealth of racing and handicapping information along with live video and race replays.
McPeek made his first trip to Sam Houston in 2002 with the incomparable Take Charge Lady, who won the $275,000 NTRA Great State Challenge Distaff. He returned in 2013 and saddled the winner of the Maxxam Gold Cup, Unstoppable U, a 4year-old Exchange Rate colt owned by Magdalena Racing and Mojallali Stables Inc. The Kentucky-based horseman made a third trip to Houston last March with Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Frac Daddy, who ran a game second to Maxxam Gold Cup winner Red Rifle.
“I’ve made the decision; we are coming to Texas,” said McPeek. “The possibility of Instant Racing (Historical Racing) in Texas could change the landscape. It would be really good for the Texas economy.”
While Texas horsemen are doing everything in their power to help the cause, McPeek has impressed Texas racing industry officials with his efforts. On July 10, he forwarded the Texas Thoroughbred Association’s alert, entitled “Sign the Petition: Help Grow Thoroughbred Racing in Texas!” to his HorseRacesNow email list. McPeek has seen the boost that Historical Racing has given to the racing industry in Arkansas and Kentucky.
“To have a nationally prominent horseman like Kenny McPeek get behind our effort to bring Historical Racing to Texas means a great deal,” said Mary Ruyle, TTA’s executive director. “We believe this will level the playing field for Texas racing by increasing purses and bringing a whole new level of respect to our industry.”
McPeek has done well at Sam Houston, and his game plan for the first few months of 2015 is coming to fruition.
“I feel I can develop better horses in Houston,” the conditioner said. “The climate, track surface and turf course are all factors.”
If Historical Racing does come to pass in Texas, McPeek will likely be the first of many out-of-state horsemen and horsewomen who give strong consideration to racing and breeding in the Lone Star State. – by Martha Claussen
Martha Claussen served 10 years as the publicity director at Sam Houston Race Park. She is currently a freelance racing writer and coordinator of the Racing Aces for the American Quarter Horse Association.