04/30/2002 12:00AM

Why not make mine a double?


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.

I'd never really thought about pulling off an Oaks-Derby double, but now that people are talking about it, it would be the neatest thing to do. It hasn't been done since Ben Jones did it in 1952 with Real Delight and Hill Gail, so obviously it's extremely difficult.

With Take Charge Lady on Friday and Harlan's Holiday on Saturday, we have two good chances. We have already pulled off two doubles this year: the Fair Grounds Oaks and Louisiana Derby (with Take Charge Lady and Repent), and the Ashland-Blue Grass (with Take Charge Lady and Harlan's Holiday).

I can't worry about if we're going to get this one done or not; the horses just have to go out there and do their best. All I know is that 10 years ago I couldn't even have dreamed about being in a position to do something historic like this. If you had asked me then if I would be here now, I would have said no way.

The way I got hooked up with Jack Wolf, the owner of Harlan's Holiday, was kind of funny. A client named Linda Lail had called one farm asking about sending her horses there, but for some reason she never got a call back. So she called Barry Berkelhammer in Ocala, Fla., and he took her horses. I ended up training Linda's horses and did okay, and so a few years later, when Jack asked Barry to refer him to a trainer, it was me. Obviously, that has worked out great.

I've been getting asked about what I learned from running Tejano Run in the 1995 Derby, and although there are some big differences in how Tejano Run and Harlan's Holiday came up to the race, the main thing is that everything still has to go correctly for you, both in your preparation and how the race is run. I will say that Harlan's Holiday has been a very low-maintenance horse, especially compared with Tejano Run.

I've been getting besieged for tickets this weekend. I don't mind people asking, but I just don't have the time to handle all the details. So I've arranged for a buddy of mine, Mike Yon, to handle it all for me. Whenever somebody needs them, I just give them Mike's phone number.