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Horse owned by WKU alumnus set to race in the Kentucky Oaks

Molly St. Clair
Thorpedo Anna and Jockey Brian Joseph Hernandez Jr. pose for pictures in the winners circle following a win in the Arkansas Fantasy, March 30, 2024

“It’s Thorpedo Anna!… Thorpedo Anna is back in business! Off the layoff! And she is a dominant winner of The Fantasy! Kentucky Oaks you bet!” 

Matt Dinerman, Oaklawn’s Track announcer called as Thorpedo Anna sprinted across the finish line in a green number 12 saddle cloth to win the Arkansas Fantasy Stakes Race on March 30 in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

The three-year-old filly won by four lengths at Oaklawn to secure her spot in the Kentucky Oaks – The filly race that precedes “The most exciting two minutes in sports,” the Kentucky Derby. 

Among those in the crowd cheering on Thorpedo Anna to victory was WKU alum Mark Edwards. However, unlike the majority of Arkansas Derby goers, Edwards ended up in the winners circle.

Edwards, better known during his time on the Hill as “Eddie,” is a Marine, lawyer, business owner, horse racing enthusiast, dedicated thoroughbred owner and a Hilltopper. 

“I’ve been a Western fan since I was like zero years old,” Edwards said. “So that’s mainly the reason I went to Western.”

Edwards, better known during his time on the Hill as “Eddie,” is still in touch with many of his brothers from Sigma Chi. Several of them have traveled to see Thorpedo Anna run and support Edwards.

After graduating from WKU in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and minor in speech, Edwards went to Officer Candidate School before he headed to law school at the University of Kentucky. 

“When I went to law school at UK, I set my schedule around Keeneland,” Edwards said. “I tried not to have any classes after one o’clock.”

Edwards always loved horse racing, but like any college and law school student, he didn’t always have the money to invest in racing.

“I didn’t have any money,” Edwards said. “I’d bet $2 a race and hope that I could beat the check to the bank.”

Following law school, he spent five years in active duty and nine years on reserve in the Marine Corps which included serving as a court martial and primarily a defense attorney.

Today, he is one of five partners at Edwards and Kautz Law firm based in Paducah, Kentucky. He also owns a chain of five liquor stores.

“Once I got in a position where I could spend money on a horse and not worry about whether I lost the money, that’s when I got involved in owning them,” Edwards said.

Edwards is a partial owner of Thorpedo Anna alongside three others, trainer Kenneth McPeek/Magdalena Racing (Sherri McPeek), breeder Judy B. Hicks and Brookdale Racing Incorporated.

The dark brown thoroughbred is named after Edward’s granddaughter, Anna Thorpe, who’s swim coaches refer to as “Thorpedo.” 

Edwards is a partial owner of another thoroughbred, Ten Days Later. The four-year-old came before Thorpedo Anna and raced at Oaklawn the same day Thorpedo Anna raced in the Fantasy.

“I’ve been involved with a lot of horses and it’s always awesome when one does good, but she (Thorpedo Anna) has done really well,” Edwards said.

After getting scratched by the vet at Ellis Park in what would have been Thorpedo Anna’s maiden race, or first race, she was eventually cleared to run her maiden race at Keeneland in October of 2023 where she won by eight and one-half lengths. 

Since then, she has won every race except for one at Churchill Downs last November, where she finished second. 

After recovering from a hip bruise, the Fantasy was her only way of qualifying for the Oaks.

“She had one shot to make The Oaks, which was the Fantasy and she did not disappoint,” Edwards said.

The horse racing business is a game of chance and the odds of a horse succeeding at such a high level are slim.

“Something like 35,000 thoroughbreds are born every year and 14 of them make the Oaks. 20 of them make the Derby,” Edwards said. “That’s pretty special to get in there and obviously I’d love to win it. It’s cool that we’re running and I think she (Thorpedo Anna) can win it.”

Overall, Edwards only had one way to describe the past five months since Thorpedo Anna’s maiden race and everything leading up to The Oaks.

“It’s unbelievable,” Edwards said.

Thorpedo Anna will run in the 11th race, The Oaks, on May 3 at Churchill Downs in Louisville. She drew post five and her odds are currently 5-1.

Sports reporter Molly St. Clair can be reached at [email protected].

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