Hernandez: Creative Minister Needs to ‘Put Big-Boy Pants On’

May 12, 2022

BALTIMORE, Md.—Trainer Kenny McPeek won the 2020 Preakness with the filly Swiss Skydiver, beating eventual 3-year-old male champion and Horse of the Year Authentic. He won the 2002 Belmont Stakes with 70-1 Sarava, a horse who earned his shot at the Triple Crown finale by winning Pimlico’s Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard. Now, McPeek will try to win another Preakness with Creative Minister (Creative Cause), a horse who has never been in a stakes race.

Jockey Brian Hernandez has ridden Creative Minister in his three prior races, including an impressive allowance victory on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

“His last race was really good,” Hernandez said Thursday morning at Churchill Downs. “He didn’t get away from the gate very well, but he overcame it. Going around the first turn, he was down on the inside and kept pricking his ears back and forth at me, like telling me ‘Hey, don’t worry about it. We’re in good shape.’

“He just traveled the whole way on Derby Day like a winner. He hit his spots and gave me all the right cues and he did everything I needed him to do that day. Once we turned for home, you could tell he was going to run those horses down, which he did,” he added.  “He’s a horse that Kenny’s really, really high on. And we’ve been high on him since before he made his first start down at Gulfstream. He was working right along with (Grade 1 winner) Rattle N Roll and Smile Happy.” 

The latter is a Grade 2 winner who finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby after coming in second to Epicenter in the Louisiana Derby (G2).

“I think everybody saw his work at Gulfstream, because he was like 6-1 first time out in the program and he went off at 8-5,” Hernandez said. “For a first timer for Kenny to go off at 8-5, I think everybody knew about him. And he ran a respectable race. It was only going seven-eighths, but he just missed right at the wire.

“He’s done everything correct so far. But now we’re stepping into a Grade 1 against some really good 3-year-olds,” he added. “Everything is going to get faster from here on out. He’s just going to have to step up and put on his big-boy pants and we’ll figure it out.”

Creative Minister galloped Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.

Cypress Creek Equine LLC’s Un Ojo (Laoban) had a scheduled walk day at Churchill Thursday and will go back to the track Friday. Clay Courville, trainer Ricky Courville’s son and assistant, said he’ll let the one-eyed gelding tell him in the morning what he wants to do as far as jogging or galloping. Un Ojo is scheduled to work Saturday morning.

The gelding was withdrawn from the Kentucky Derby the morning of entries with a minor foot bruise that Clay Courville said is no longer an issue. 

Maryland Jockey Club Press Release
Creative Minister (outside #7) soared to finish a game second on debut at Gulfstream. He would follow up by winning his next two starts. (Coglianese)

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