04/30/2002 11:00PM

It's chaos, but I'll bring the family


Each day through the Kentucky Derby, trainer Ken McPeek will share his thoughts with Marty McGee of Daily Racing Form in his Derby Diary. McPeek, 39, is the trainer of Harlan's Holiday, the race favorite.

You could call the Oaks and Derby days controlled chaos. There are so many people that it's just impossible for Churchill Downs to accommodate everybody.

When I ran Deputy Warlock in the Derby two years ago, I think the owners, Jerry and Feye Bach, were a little disappointed with how all the arrangements went. They thought it would be a little more fancy, but people were jammed shoulder to shoulder where everybody was having lunch. Again, with everything involved with Derby Day, there's just no way to make it like a normal Saturday. It can be a tough day to get through.

People like to make fancy talk about the famous walk from the stable area to the paddock for the Derby. My first one was great with Tejano Run in 1995, but I can hardly remember Deputy Warlock. Anyway, since I broke a bone in my foot playing basketball a couple of weeks ago, it's doubtful that I'm going to be able to do the walk. My man Bill Stovall from Churchill security is working with me. He's probably going to get a golf cart so we can get where we need to go both days. Actually, my foot's feeling pretty good right now, so I might try walking over Saturday with Harlan's Holiday.

My wife, Sue, and I decided we're going to bring our 19-month-old daughter, Jenna, with us both days, even though we realize Oaks and Derby days aren't the best days for children. It's just that this could be something we wouldn't want her to miss, and you never know when your next chance is going to be.

With all the major training finished, my job is basically done. It's kind of downhill from here. All we have to do is tack them up, leg up the riders, and let 'em go. This is probably the easiest part of the whole process. Some guys get all tense and nervous on race day, but I'm kind of the opposite. I'm usually pretty relaxed. Then, when the horses hit the wire, I kind of let all my emotions out and break out in a sweat. I don't know why that is, but that's just the routine I'm into for big races.