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Trainer Ken McPeek at the 2022 Alibi Breakfast.

Ken McPeek reaches 2,000 wins

Date: 2/22/2024

Trainer Ken McPeek notched win number 2,000 with Winnable in the fifth race at Turfway Park on Wednesday evening. His first victory was in 1985 at River Downs in Ohio with Final Destroyer, and he went on to have three wins from 20 starts that year. In addition to training, he has also been an agent at the sales, and is famous for purchasing Curlin as a yearling for only $57,000. Curlin went on to be a two-time Horse of the Year, was voted into the Racing Hall of Fame, and went on to become an important sire after he retired from racing.

Trainer Ken McPeek (right) at the trophy presentation for the 2002 Belmont Stakes (G1) which he won with Sarava.

McPeek said, "Not many people have (won 2,000 races) I suppose. The interesting thing about this filly that won last night is that Joe Murphy (of Stoneleigh Farm) - his father J.B. Murphy was one of my first clients. He gave me a horse in 1987, and I've been associated with the family since. I'm proud of that. The other thing about this win was that it happened at Turfway Park, a place where I cut my teeth and won a lot of races. Buying horses is like fine wine. Once you've tasted it, you don't go back to Bud Light. Once you've won some big races, you gravitate back to them if you can. I'm somewhat figuring it out at 61. I've got a good group of horses, people, and clients." He was not at Turfway for the milestone win, watching the race online from New Orleans.

Winnable in the winner's circle at Turfway Park after giving McPeek his 2000th victory.
McPeek, who is 61 years old, was born in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, and grew up in Lexington, Kentucky. He graduated from the University of Kentucky with a business administration degree in 1984 and went to New York to interview for a job as a stockbroker. Instead, he took a job as a hotwalker for Shug McGaughey. He went out on his own in 1985 and his horses have so far earned over $177 million total. He serves on the Boards of the UK Agricultural Equine Program and TOBA (Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association). He was a member of the NYRA Equine Veterinary Medical Director Search Committee.

Trainer Ken McPeek follows Swiss Skydiver to the winner's circle after the 2020 Preakness Stakes (G1).

He has two wins in the Triple Crown, taking the 2002 Belmont with Sarava and the 2020 Preakness with the filly Swiss Skydiver. His best result in the Kentucky Derby was second with Tejano Run in 1995. In addition he has three third place finishes in the Triple Crown, with Atigun in the 2012 Belmont, Senior Investment in the 2017 Preakness, and Creative Minister in the 2022 Preakness. So far he has been winless in the Breeders' Cup but has 7 second place finishers, most recently Restless Rider in the 2021 Juvenile Turf, and 10 third place finishes, most recently Signalman in the 2018 Juvenile. He credits Tejano Run with kickstarting his career as a top trainer. “Tejano Run was a game changer for me because it led me to better horses. Up to that point I was probably the definition of a small claiming trainer and had had a few decent horses, but nothing like him. When he jumped onto the scene, he was exceptionally talented."

Ken McPeek in the winner's circle after winning the 2023 Alysheba Stakes (G2) with Smile Happy.

At time of writing (February 22, 2024) McPeek has a record of 2,000 wins, 1,800 seconds, and 1,759 thirds in 13,319 starts, with purse earnings of over $117 million. In stakes competition he has 242 wins, 245 seconds, and 239 thirds in 1,751 starts, earning close to $54.8 million. He has multiple graded stakes winners with Ashland (G1) winner Take Charge Lady his best runner with $2.4 million in earnings, followed closely by Preakness (G1) winner Swiss Skydiver with $2.2 million and Breeders' Futurity (G1) winner Rattle N Roll with $1.7 million.

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