Barn Notes 12/21/23

Compiled by Robert Yates

Trainer Kenny McPeek is off to a fast start at Oaklawn. So is Frosted Departure.

McPeek, who has approximately 40 horses on the grounds, already has three victories through the first five days of the 2023-2024 meeting that began Dec. 8. The well-traveled Frosted Departure delivered the most eye-catching score, rolling home by 7 ¼ front-running lengths Dec. 15.

The allowance race, Frosted Departure’s first start against older horses, marked a happy homecoming for the 3-year-old gray son of Frosted. Frosted Departure snapped a nine-race losing streak. Frosted Departure hadn’t won since the inaugural $150,000 Renaissance Stakes for 2-year-olds at 6 furlongs Dec. 31, 2022, at Oaklawn.

Frosted Departure’s subsequent racing journey included multiple Kentucky Derby graded stakes preps around two turns at Oaklawn and a graded turf sprint stake in Kentucky. He was exiting a lackluster ninth, beaten 17 ¾ lengths, in the six-furlong $300,000 Steel Valley Sprint Stakes Nov. 20 at Mahoning Valley in Ohio.

“He will stay long from now on,” McPeek said. “I think he loves Oaklawn, first, but he won that sprint stakes here last year, which kind of entices you to keep sprinting him. And it seems like he wasn’t quite like a top 3-year-old in the nation going longer, although he tested several of those stakes here last year. But when he gets his way, he’s tough.”

McPeek said next-race plans are pending for Frosted Departure, but he’ll probably be nominated to the one-mile $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 20 and the 8 ½-furlongs $600,000 G3-Razorback Handicap Feb. 24. Both races are at Oaklawn.

McPeek’s first victory of the meeting came with Butterbean in the one-mile $150,000 Mistletoe Stakes for fillies and mares Dec. 9. McPeek said Butterbean is pointing for Oaklawn’s $250,000 G3-Bayakoa Stakes Feb. 3.

McPeek said Indiana-bred standout Ice Cold is pointing for Oaklawn’s one-mile $200,000 Year’s End Stakes for 2-year-old fillies Dec. 31.

Other Oaklawn-based runners for McPeek include Thorpedo Anna, runner-up in the $400,000 G2-Golden Rod Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs; Northern Flame, fourth in the $600,000 G1-Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland; Mystik Dan, a swift 2-year-old colt; Triple Crown starters Creative Minister and Sun Thunder; and stakes-winning filly One More Kelly.

McPeek said he also has around 30 horses at Fair Grounds and maintains a winter presence in New York and Kentucky.

“This is the strongest group I’ve ever had,” McPeek said.

McPeek notched his third victory this season at Oaklawn with Lat Long in Sunday’s sixth race, an 8 ½-fulrong maiden allowance race for 2-year-olds. Lat Long is a son of Liam’s Map.

Lat Long was the 1,980th career North American victory for McPeek, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. McPeek has 78 career victories at Oaklawn, including 14 last season to tie for eighth in the standings. Led by Frosted Departure and now-retired Grade 1 winner Defining Purpose, McPeek won four races Dec. 31 – Oaklawn’s first card exclusively for 2-year-olds.

Defining Purpose, who won the Year’s End, will be bred to unbeaten 2022 Horse of the Year Flightline, McPeek said.

Tyler’s Tribe Update

Multiple stakes winner Tyler’s Tribe, shut down last spring after bleeding in multiple races, returned to the work tab Nov. 24 at Oaklawn, covering 3 furlongs in :39 for his yet-to-be determined comeback spot.

“We’ll just kind of come back slow with him,” trainer Tim Martin said. “One day at a time.”

Tyler’s Tribe turned out at Martin’s farm in nearby Royal after bleeding and being eased in the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters April 29 at Oaklawn. The gelding resumed training in September, Martin said.

Tyler’s Tribe, Martin said, bled through Lasix during a third-place finish in the $150,000 Advent Stakes last December at Oaklawn and again in the Bachelor.

“Hopefully, the time off helped,” Martin said. “Nothing pinpointed for him.”

An Iowa-bred, Tyler’s Tribe is a four-time stakes winner.

Finish Lines

Oaklawn is dark this weekend (Christmas). Racing resumes Dec. 29. … Winnemac Avenue ($11.60) represented the 398th career Oaklawn victory for jockey Ramon Vazquez in Sunday’s ninth race. Only 12 riders have reached 400 career Oaklawn victories. … In Sunday’s 10th race, Black Apple ($30.20) was the 290th career Oaklawn victory for its all-time winningest owner, John Ed Anthony.