Sun Thunder – Kentucky Derby Context

April 26th, 2023

Sun Thunder will need the right set up; the one-dimensional late runner will be rallying from off the pace in the Kentucky Derby. A good second in the Risen Star (G2) three back, Sun Thunder needed points to qualify following a fifth in the Louisiana Derby (G2), returning two weeks later to stamp his ticket with a non-threatening fourth in the Blue Grass (G1). The bay colt must improve upon recent efforts to challenge, and the projected race flow may not work in his favor at Churchill Downs.

Top Brisnet Speed: 96

Top Brisnet Late Pace: 104

Owner: Ramon Tallaj’s R.T. Racing Stable and Kevin Mundy’s Cypress Creek Equine campaign Sun Thunder. Cypress Creek, which is based in Lafayette, Louisiana, will make its second Kentucky Derby appearance, co-owning Keepmeinmind, elevated to sixth in 2021.

Trainer: Kenny McPeek finished second with his first Kentucky Derby starter, Tejano Run in 1995, and Sun Thunder will be his ninth runner. The Kentucky Derby is the only Triple Crown prize missing from his resume, as the 60-year-old conditioner was responsible for Preakness winner Swiss Skydiver (2020) and Belmont victor Sarava (2002), and McPeek’s horses have earned more than $100 million from nearly 2,000 wins.

Jockey: A leading rider at Churchill Downs, Brian Hernandez Jr. won the Eclipse Award for apprentice jockey in 2004. His biggest win came aboard 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) hero Fort Larned, and Hernandez will make his fourth Kentucky Derby appearance, his top result being an eighth aboard McCraken in 2017.

Breeder/Sales: Bred in Kentucky by Southern Equine Stables, Sun Thunder sold for $400,000 as a weanling at the 2020 Keeneland November sale and RNA’ed for $495,000 as a yearling at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga August sale. This will be the second Kentucky Derby starter as a breeder for Southern Equine Stables, following Keepmeinmind’s sixth in 2021.

Sire: The reigning four-time leading sire in North America, Into Mischief produced back-to-back Kentucky Derby winners in Authentic and Mandaloun (2020-21). He also has Rocket Can in the main body of the 2023 field and Cyclone Mischief seeking to draw in from outside the bubble. By Harlan’s Holiday, Into Mischief is responsible for six champions and a Horse of the Year. The 18-year-old stallion, a juvenile Grade 1 winner, stands at Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.

Dam: Greenfield d’Oro provides a mix of speed and stamina to Sun Thunder’s bloodlines. She’s by Medaglia d’Oro, winner of the 1 1/4-mile Travers (G1) and runner-up in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, and the 24-year-old stallion counts 2009 Horse of the Year and Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra among his notable offspring. Medaglia d’Oro appears capable of making an impact in the Triple Crown as a broodmare sire, and Greenfield d’Oro is out of the Elusive Quality mare Maryfield, the champion female sprinter in 2007.

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