Trainer Kenny McPeek says it’s “all systems go” for Tiz The Bomb with the Phoenix Thoroughbreds owned colt to taking his place in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on Friday.
The two-year-old enters the biggest stage on top form, having not tasted defeat in his last three starts, his only career reverse coming on debut. It was in the last of that trio of successes where he punched his ticket to the World Championships of horse racing by landing the “Win And You’re In” G2 Bourbon And Key Stakes at Keeneland. Since then, everything has gone smoothly in preparation for his run at the seaside oval of Del Mar.
“He’s a very easy horse to be around and loves his work,” said Mcpeek. “He’s had a couple of maintenance breezes since his victory at Keeneland and shipped to California in good order, so it’s all systems go.”
One of those maintenance breezes turned a few heads, with the colt clocking 47.20 over half a mile on a muddy looking dirt track. That sort of fast workout, however, has been a regular occurrence for the throughout his still-young career.
“I think he is every bit as good on the dirt as he is on the turf.” said McPeek of the breeze. “I got caught in a weather trap. I wanted to work on the grass, but that was very soft, so then we tried to wait for a dry race track, but it rained all weekend leading into the Breeders’ Cup. I went ahead and worked him a little half mile on the dirt and he just zipped along on it like he loved it. I do think this horse has a future on the dirt on the other side of this weekend.”
Traditionally the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf has been a race dominated by the European raiders, including Tiz The Bomb’s sire and 2015 winner Hit It A Bomb. So how does McPeek’s star youngster stack up against the challengers from across the pond?
“I think he’ll be very competitive this week,” says McPeek with more than a little confidence. “I think the last two Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf races have been won by Americans. His sire was a European horse himself, so it’s going to be an interesting race. It will be a little trickier with the bigger field and the one-mile distance, but I’m looking forward to running him over even further than a mile in the future.”
“I can’t handicap the horses inside of him, but I suspect we’ll let him run to that first turn, settle in position, then try to find a clean trip home.”
Although only with four starts under his belt, Tiz The Bomb has proved himself on a variety of tracks. He was a 14 plus lengths winner on dirt at Ellis Park before landing the Juvenile Mile Stakes at the European-style Kentucky Downs. All that before landing his latest win at Keeneland. Drawn in post position four on Friday, McPeek sees no reason why the tight turns of Del Mar should prove a problem.
“We’re pleased with the draw and we’ve been doing some gate schooling with him to make sure he does everything right on race day.
I think you need to have a good trip in these races. A 14 runner field going one mile over two turns it’s tricky; you can get run wide or stuck in traffic. Fingers crossed, we have some good luck.”
The trainer has won plenty of North America’s leading races, but a landmark win in the Breeders’ Cup has so far alluded him. He’s hopeful that can change on Friday.
“It’s a great chance for me to get my first win in the Breeders’ Cup,” said the trainer. “The horse is coming into it really well and you have to get lucky in these races. I’ve had a long list of second and thirds, but our day will come and if it’s not this weekend, it will be with another one; I’m optimistic.
I’m excited for the day. I’ve taken some really good horses to the Breeders’ Cup and they’ve run well and I’m confident Tiz The Bomb will too.”