Among his fellow horsemen, trainer Kenny McPeek was early to use new media and technology to dispense information to Thoroughbred racing's audience.
The Horse Races NOW app he developed provides live race videos and replays and has, by his account, been downloaded in 101 countries. And when there are updates or changes to report regarding his notable runners, McPeek's followers on Twitter are among the first to know.
On March 16, McPeek tweeted out one such nugget on his Grade I-winning filly Pure Fun in advance of her season debut in Saturday's Grade III Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park. In addition to the cursory jockey info (Garrett Gomez aboard) and future goals (Fantasy or Ashland Stakes would be next), McPeek included the following warning in his 140-character report:
"They won't beat her."
The connections of the 11 other entrants in the 1-mile Bourbonette will try to make a liar out of McPeek. But as the only graded stakes winner in the field, Pure Fun's place as the 8-5 morning-line favorite is justified.
Owned by Magdalena Racing, Pure Fun has been lying in wait since her rallying 1-length win in the Grade I, 11⁄16-mile Hollywood Starlet over Hollywood Park's synthetic track Dec. 8 — her third win in eight career starts.
The daughter of Pure Prize showed up for her last two outings of 2012 a markedly different filly than the one who marched through her first six starts. She is now considered a leading Kentucky Oaks contender. After making five of those first six starts on turf with only one victory, Pure Fun hit the main track at Churchill Downs for a 1-mile test in November and exploded for a 91/4-length victory that prompted McPeek to supplement her to the Starlet.
"I'll be honest, the race at Churchill was a bit of a surprise for me because we had tried a little of this, that and we really ... sensed that she was a decent filly but not a great filly," said McPeek, who will also saddle Taken by the Storm in Saturday's Grade III, $550,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes. "When she ran out of the picture that day, it was a pleasant surprise. She found another gear. And she did have excuses earlier in her career because I believe she drew the 11 or 12 hole three straight races, and she got hung wide.
"We wanted a relatively easy spot for her on the comeback. We're not in (the Oaks field) yet with points, so we've got to run twice, I think, to ensure that we're going to get in."
As if the statistical advantage Pure Fun figures to have in the Bourbonette were not intimidating enough, there is the matter of her physical frame, one large enough to dwarf some of the males in the Spiral lineup.
According to McPeek, Pure Fun weighs in close to 1,200 pounds. She also, as her trainer points out, has never had to run on the anti-bleeder medication Lasix and with starts over five different tracks already, has shown a temperament designed to handle big-race shenanigans.
"She's a really easy keeper; really classy filly to be around," McPeek said. "We did a little schooling in the paddock the other day with her and there was a crowd of people and she never turned a hair. She just reeks that high level of class."
What: Kentucky Oaks prep race for 3-year-old fillies
When: Saturday, 5:14 p.m.
Where: Turfway Park
Distance: 1 mile
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.