Ky. Derby Champ Mystik Dan Final Preps

June 4, 2024

Mystik Dan works in company at Saratoga. (Adam Coglianese/NYRA)

Ky. Oaks Queen Thorpedo Anna on Track for the Acorn

NYRA Press Office

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Four G Racing, Lance Gasaway, Daniel Hamby, III and Valley View Farm’s Grade 1 Kentucky Derby-winner Mystik Dan stretched his legs over Saratoga Race Course’s main track Tuesday in preparation for the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday at the Spa. 

Trainer Kenny McPeek noted the son of Goldencents appeared to enjoy his trip around the famed oval. 

“It was good,” said McPeek. “Easy-peasy. Got him a little spin over there, and we might take him back over there Thursday. We’ll see. He’s doing good. Some people came by and spoiled him with some peppermints. He’s happy. 

“You like to be in this position more than anything else, and it’s hard to get in here, much less win it,” McPeek added.

Mystik Dan enters the 10-furlong Belmont Stakes off a valiant runner-up effort to returning rival Seize the Grey in the 1 3/16-mile Grade 1 Preakness on May 18. The effort came two weeks after a dramatic victory in the Kentucky Derby where he rode the rail near the quarter-pole to take the lead. He responded well to urging from returning pilot Brian Hernandez, Jr. in the lane, and reached the wire a nose better than Sierra Leone, who outdueled the game Group 2 UAE Derby-winner Forever Young to earn place honors by a nose in a three-way photo.

Mystik Dan emerged from post 3 in the Derby and will exit the same post again in the Belmont Stakes. McPeek said he has full confidence in Hernandez, Jr., who also piloted Thorpedo Anna to victory in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks one day before the Derby. 

“Lance said to me yesterday morning, ‘We want post 3.’ I said, ‘Ok, I’ll go do it,’” McPeek said, with a laugh. “It’s going to be interesting. The pace in this thing is interesting on how it might set up. It’s Brian Hernandez’s job, not mine. I’ve always said he is a consummate professional. When we work horses, he’s there early and the input he gives us is always good. He rides horses consistently for us, so he knows the horses. In many cases, I don’t need to give him instructions because he already knows.” 

McPeek sent out Nader Alaali, Mark Edwards, Judy Hicks and Magdalena Racing’s Thorpedo Anna to gallop over the Oklahoma dirt training track this morning after going to the main track yesterday in preparation for the Grade 1, $500,000 DK Horse Acorn on Friday at the Spa. The daughter of Fast Anna was considered for the Belmont Stakes, but McPeek opted for the Acorn to keep her and Mystik Dan apart. 

“She loved it. She was impressive over the main, and this morning, she’s just hitting on all cylinders,” said McPeek. “I wouldn’t have been scared to run her Saturday [in the Belmont] at all.” 

McPeek added Thorpedo Anna is likely to return to the main track for her gallop tomorrow. 

Get the scoop on Mystik Dan and Thorpedo Anna right from Kenny McPeek courtesy of Past The Wire!

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