Thorpedo Anna Romps in G1 Acorn

June 8, 2024

Thorpedo Anna (NYRA Coglianese)

By Brian Bohl

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Following an impressive victory in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in May, Thorpedo Anna’s connections contemplated entering in Saturday’s Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets. Instead, trainer Ken McPeek kept her within the division, and she responded with another dominating effort, posting a 5 1/2 length victory in Friday’s Grade 1, $500,000 DK Horse Acorn for sophomore fillies going 1 1/8 miles over Saratoga Race Course’s main track.

The 94th edition of the DK Horse Acorn, which counts Hall of Famers such as Ruffian, Gallorette, Davona Dale and Inside Information among its prestigious list of winners, held its first-ever running at the Spa. Thorpedo Anna rose to the occasion by registering her first memorable moment at the historic track, tracking in second position as Just F Y I led the eight-horse field through an opening quarter mile in 23.53 seconds, the half in 46.75 and three-quarters in 1:10.24 over the fast track.

Jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr., aboard for all six of Thorpedo Anna’s career starts, led his charge to her fifth win. In the final turn, after patiently stalking, Hernandez, Jr. asked for more and Thorpedo Anna responded by linking up to the pacesetter and taking the lead at the top of the lane. When pulling away in the stretch, Hernandez, Jr. needed to only show the crop with his left-hand to keep her focused, and Thorpedo Anna thundered home a winner in 1:49.02 over runner-up Leslie’s Rose.

Power Squeeze finished third with New York-bred My Mane Squeeze notching a fourth-place effort in her Grade 1 bow. Regulatory Risk, Just F Y I, Where’s My Ring and Gun Song completed the order of finish. Becky’s Joker, who ran fourth in Thursday’s Jersey Girl here, was scratched.

Thorpedo Anna, owned by Nader Alaali, Mark Edwards, Judy Hicks and Magdalena Racing, became just the 14th filly to register the Acorn-Kentucky Oaks double and the second consecutive year after Pretty Mischievous accomplished the feat in 2023 at Belmont Park.

McPeek saw his 3-4 favorite pay $3.50 on a $2 win wager in going to 5-for-6, with a runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Golden Rod in November at Churchill Downs to cap her juvenile campaign, marking the only time the Fast Anna filly has not visited the winner’s circle.

“She’s just got a huge, long hip on her, and combined with her speed, she keeps going. Her conformation gets her that,” McPeek said. “The Uncle Mo broodmare sire is where I think the speed comes from. She is really special.”

McPeek already saw Thorpedo Anna help him make history at Churchill Downs where he saddled both the Oaks and Kentucky Derby winner [Mystik Dan] on consecutive days to become the first trainer to saddle both since 1952. Mystik Dan is the 5-1 morning-line third choice in Saturday’s Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, providing McPeek another opportunity to make the record books.

There were discussions of pitting Thorpedo Anna against males in an American Classic with the Belmont Stakes. McPeek said that move against higher-caliber competition could still be in play even if the third leg of the Triple Crown wasn’t what they determined to be the right spot to make the move.

“I think the first thought was, ‘Dang, I could have run her in the Belmont.’ I really felt I could have. She makes it easy,” McPeek said. “One of our goals coming into the race was to stamp her as the best 3-year-old in America. Whether we take on the colts [later] will be fun and it will be interesting. I’ll probably tease you all with what I’m thinking about. We’ll see. If she’s doing really well and she came back in the Coaching Club, and Mystik Dan didn’t make the Travers, then who knows? You might see us here. But I’m not going to run them against each other if I can help it.”

Thorpedo Anna improved her career earnings to $1.7 million. Hernandez, Jr. has led her to those five victories by a combined 31 1/2 lengths in a brilliant start to her career.

“She’s an amazing filly,” Hernandez, Jr. said. “Today, Just F Y I kind of surprised me by going to the lead, but then my filly, she’s just such a good filly. She settled right off of her outside and we got to the second turn, she was traveling so beautifully. For her to go 46 and some change like she did again, she doesn’t feel like she’s going that quick, she just is doing it effortlessly with her ears up. We turned for home and I reached back and I slapped her one time, because she was kind of messing around a little bit, I didn’t want someone to really run at her and jump on her, once I did that, I was like OK, we are in good order now. She is going to cruise home from here.”

Bred in Kentucky by Judy Hicks, Thorpedo Anna was purchased for $40,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale.

Whisper Hill Farm’s Leslie’s Rose, trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, rebounded from a 13th place Oaks effort and was game to the wire in besting Power Squeeze by 1 1/4 lengths for second.

“I thought she ran super,” Pletcher said. “She had a good trip and kept trying to the wire. She was just second-best to a really good filly today. We were in the spot we wanted to be in. I was hoping they would engage each other a little more. The winner was very settled outside. I thought for a moment we had a shot, but that other filly kicked clear. Our filly kept trying to the wire. We were happy to get [her back running well]. I’m happy with her effort.”

Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., who was aboard Leslie’s Rose for a three-length win in the Grade 1 Ashland in her 3-year-old debut in April at Keeneland, said he was pleased with her effort in her first Saratoga start.

“She ran beautiful, perfect. We just got beat by a nice filly today,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “We had no excuse. We were so disappointed last time. She was working so good and I don’t think she liked the slop [in the Oaks]. We are happy to see her back.”

Lea Farms’ Power Squeeze, trained by Jorge Delgado and ridden by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, finished sixth in the Oaks but rallied from eighth to earn her first Grade 1-placing with a third-place effort.

“There was a lot of speed in the race,” Castellano said. “I had a beautiful post and it let me save all the ground and let it develop – don’t rush it too much and don’t get too [into the] speed. My horse is used to coming from behind and I think it was a good set up for my horse. I’m really happy the way she did it today. It was a fast pace and good horses, and she stepped up and earned a Grade 1-place. I’m happy for the owner and the trainer.”

Live racing resumes Saturday at Saratoga for the featured Belmont Stakes Day card, headlined by the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets in Race 12. The lucrative 14-race card also features the Grade 1, $500,000 Ogden Phipps presented by Ford in Race 7; the Grade 1, $500,000 Woody Stephens in Race 8; the Grade 1, $500,000 Jaipur presented by Resolute Racing in Race 9; the Grade 1, $1 million Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap in Race 10; the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino Manhattan in Race 11; the Grade 2, $350,000 True North presented by F.W. Webb in Race 4; the Grade 3, $350,000 Poker in Race 5; and the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban in Race 6. First post is 10:45 a.m. Eastern.

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