At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss maiden winner Sun Thunder as a serious contender to win the Kentucky Derby (G1).
But how can we ignore a horse trained by upset king Kenny McPeek? It seems unlikely Sun Thunder can pull off a shocker as history shows us: Of the 12 maiden winners who ran in the Derby since 1937, the best finish among them was eighth by On The Mark in 1950.
The last maiden winner to run in the Derby was Bodexpress, who finished 13th in 2019.
Sun Thunder qualified for the Derby with points-earning finishes in the Grade 1 Blue Grass (fourth), the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby (fifth) and the Grade 2 Risen Star (second). A $400,000 purchase, the colt has earned nearly a quarter-million dollars, and the owners recently decided to take a shot in the Derby.
McPeek does have a history of pulling off huge upsets – his biggest with Sarava at 70-1 odds in the 2002 Belmont Stakes (G1).
That said, expect Sun Thunder to be far back in the large field and come running at the end. McPeek says he believes his colt can handle the 1 ¼ miles of the Derby but needs to step up to another level to have any chance.
Post position: 13
Trainer: Kenny McPeek
Jockey: Brian Hernandez, Jr.
Owners: R T Racing Stable (Ramon Tallaj), Cypress Creek Equine (Kevin Moody)
Career record: 6-1-1-1
Career earnings: $247,500
Derby qualifying points: 54 (14th)
Best Equibase speed figure: 94
Pedigree: Into Mischief-Greenfield D’Oro, by Medaglia D’Oro
Running style: Closer
Notes: McPeek is looking for his first Derby win; he’s won the Preakness with the filly Swiss Skydiver in 2020 and the Belmont with Sarava in 2002. His best Derby finish was second with Tejano Run in 1995 … Hernandez will ride in his fourth Derby – he finished ninth aboard McPeek-trained Tiz the Bomb in 2021.
|1||Hit Show||Franco||Brad H. Cox||West, Gary and Mary||30-1|
|2||Verifying||Gaffalione||Brad H. Cox||Poulin, Jonathan, Westerberg, Magnier, Mrs. John, Smith, Derrick and Tabor, Michael B.||15-1|
|3||Two Phil’s||Loveberry||Larry Rivelli||Patricia’s Hope LLC and Sagan, Phillip||12-1|
|4||Conficence Game||Graham||J. Keith Desormeaux||Don’t Tell My Wife Stables||20-1|
|5||Tapit Trice||Saez||Todd A. Pletcher||Whisper Hill Farm, LLC and Gainesway Stable (Antony Beck)||5-1|
|6||Kinkngbarns||J. Ortiz||Todd A. Pletcher||Spendthrift Farm LLC||12-1|
|7||Reincartnate||Velazquez||Tim Yakteen||SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Masterson, Robert E., Stonestreet Stables LLC, Schoenfarber, Jay A., Waves Edge Capital LLC and Donovan, Catherine||50-1|
|8||Mage||Castellano||Gustavo Delgado||OGMA Investments, LLC, Restrepo, Ramiro, Sterling Racing LLC and CMNWLTH||15-1|
|SCR||Skinner||Hernandez||John A. Shirreffs||C R K Stable||20-1|
|SCR||Practical Move||Vazquez||Tim Yakteen||Amestoy, Jr., Pierre Jean, Amestoy, Leslie A. and Beasley, Roger K.||SCR|
|9||Disarm||Rosario||Steven M. Asmussen||Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC||30/1|
|10||Jace’s Road||Geroux||Brad H. Cox||West Point Thoroughbreds and Albaugh Family Stables LLC||15-1|
|11||Sun Thunder||Hernandez Jr||Kenneth G. McPeek||R.T Racing Stable and Cypress Creek Equine||30-1|
|12||Angel Of Empire||Prat||Brad H. Cox||Albaugh Family Stables LLC||8-1|
|13||Forte||I. Ortiz JR.||Todd A. Pletcher||Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable||3-1|
|14||Raise Can||Corrales||Ben Colebrook||Warren, Andrew and Warren, Rania||15-1|
|15||Derma Sotogake||Lemaire||Hidetaka Otonashi||Hiroyuki Asanuma||10-1|
|16||Rocket Can||Alvarado||William I. Mott||Frank Fletcher Racing Operations, Inc.||15-1|
|SCR||Lord Miles||Lopez||Todd A. Pletcher||Vegso Racing Stable||30-1|
|17||Continuar||Sakai||Yoshito Yahagi||Lion Race Horse Co. Ltd.||50-1|
|18||Cyclone Mischief||J. Rosario||D. Romans||Albaugh Family Stables LLC and Castleton Lyons.||30-1|
|19||Mandarin Hero||Kazushi Kimura||Terunobu Fujita||Hiroaki Arai.||20-1|
|20||King Russell||Rafael Bejarano||Ron Moquett||Jones, Brereton C. and Naber Racing, LLC||50-1|
The writing team at US Racing is comprised of both full-time and part-time contributors with expertise in various aspects of the Sport of Kings.