Filly Thorpedo Anna goes wire to wire to dominate soggy 150th Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Thorpedo Anna capped her biggest victory with one impressive burst.

The filly went wire to wire in the 150th Kentucky Oaks on Friday, pulling away from a charging Just F Y I to win by 4 3/4 lengths in the slop at Churchill Downs.

Thorpedo Anna’s quick splits in her longest race over a muddy surface made it even better for trainer Kenny McPeek.

“I felt really confident, even the first half-mile,” McPeek said, crediting breeder and co-owner Judy Hicks. “She’s just fast. Judy’s bred a beautiful filly here, and she’s got gear on top of gear.”

The dark brown horse was briefly the top choice before going off at 4-1 odds and staking her claim right away in the $1.5 million marquee race for 3-year-old fillies. She led by at least a length over Fiona’s Magic with Ways and Means and Into Champagne in the mix heading into the far turn.

Just F Y I charged into contention entering the stretch, but jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. took Thorpedo Anna up a gear to break away and cover the 1 1/8 mile in 1:50.83 for her fourth victory in five starts by a combined 22 1/4 lengths.

It was McPeek’s first Oaks triumph after three runner-up finishes. Hernandez also earned his first Oaks win.

“It looked like there was no speed to our inside,” the rider said, “so we thought that if we let her run under the wire in the first turn, she would get good position, which she did. From there, she is just such a naturally talented filly, she went quick through the half and the whole way around there, really.

“She was just doing it with her ears up and cruising along.

Thorpedo Anna paid $10.98, $6.06 and $3.06. Just F Y I returned $5.06 and 3.98 for second, and Regulatory Risk paid $11.82 for third.

Just F Y I jockey Junior Alvarado said his mount ran a great race but Thorpedo Anna was simply better.

“Turning for home I thought I had a chance to win the race but I was just second-best,” Alvarado said.

Thorpedo Anna arrived at the Oaks off a four-length victory in the Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas on March 30. She posted an 8 1/2-length victory in her debut at Keeneland in Lexington and added a nine-length rout in an allowance optional claiming race at Churchill Downs before closing last year with second in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes.

McPeek noted that Thorpedo Anna was a little nervous before the Fantasy Stakes but shook it off to take over halfway and win. That wasn’t the case before the Oaks with 107,236 looking on at Churchill Downs.

“Today she got out there and she was just cool, calm, taking it all in,” he said. “When I (saw) the way she was in the post‑parade, I thought, man, it’s going to take a really, really good horse to beat her today.”

Friday marked the week-old spring meet’s first day with off conditions on Churchill Downs’ upgraded surface installed last year as part of several safety changes that followed last spring’s spate of 12 deaths at the historic track. That total included seven horses in the week leading up to the Kentucky Derby and two on the Derby undercard.

The first half of the 13-race card went off under a steady drizzle, and the rain tapered off to intermittent showers throughout the afternoon. An allowance optional claiming race on turf was moved to the dirt and resulted in eight scratches.

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AP horse racing: https://apnews.com/hub/horse-racing

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