03/27/2015 6:22PM

Trace Creek gives McPeek first Oaklawn stakes win

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Trace Creek wins the Arkansas Breeders' Stakes by a half-length Friday.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Trainer Ken McPeek won his first Oaklawn Park stakes on Friday when Trace Creek held off Pistolpackinpenny in the $75,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes.

The milestone score came after a series of close calls in major Oaklawn stakes. McPeek trainee Take Charge Lady was edged by Azeri in the 2003 Apple Blossom, while Noble’s Promise lost a photo to Lookin At Lucky in the 2010 Rebel and Frac Daddy had to settle for second to Overanalyze in the 2013 Arkansas Derby.   

“We’ve knocked on the door in a lot of the big ones,” said McPeek.

It ended up being a turf specialist on dirt, Trace Creek, who put McPeek in the infield winner’s circle after the horse dug in for a half-length win in the Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes. Pistolpackinpenny held second by a nose over third-place finisher Mallard’s Bro.

Trace Creek ($4.20) settled in third in the early stages as Too Tall and Proud Image dueled through fractions of 23.96 seconds for the opening quarter, 48.70 for the opening half-mile, and 1:14.64 for six furlongs. Trace Creek took over into the stretch and battled to the wire to cover the 1 1/16 miles on a track rated fast in 1:46.33.

“We do think he’s better on the grass,” McPeek said. “Obviously, he was good enough to get it done today.”

Trace Creek, who is graded stakes-placed on turf, was ridden by Chris Landeros. The horse races for his breeder, the Shortleaf Stable operation of John Ed Anthony. Trace Creek picked up $45,000 for his win Friday. He is a son of Harperstown.