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Tiz The Bomb targeting the Holy Bull for return.

Tiz The Bomb targeting the Holy Bull for return.

After recent breezes, trainer Kenny McPeek is thrilled with Phoenix Thoroughbreds‘ Kentucky hope Tiz The Bomb and aims to have the son of Hit It A Bomb returning to action in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream in early February.

The Graded Stakes winner has been breezing alongside fellow Derby contender Smile Happy for the past two weekends, with the pair setting 46:52 over 4f on Saturday (January 15). Tiz The Bomb was last seen finishing runner up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar after a minor abrasion kept him from running as favourite in the Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Tiz The Bomb will start his ‘run for the roses’ in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park in early February. Shamela Hanley/Breeders’ Cup Eclipse Sportswire

“I couldn’t be more pleased with him (since the Breeders’ Cup),” said McPeek shortly after the morning’s workout. “He’s done great with his little break. He had a slight nick on his leg that we had to address with some simple clean up and antibiotics last fall. He’s back into a three-year-old routine now. He’s had a little three eights and a couple of half miles, and he’s hitting on all cylinders already, so it’s very exciting.”

Although already a Graded stakes winner and despite him in the infancy of his classic year, the exciting colt is already showing connections he can improve in 2022.

“Physically, he is much bigger and stronger,” Continued the trainer. “He’s a very mature and intelligent horse to be around anyway, but he gained a bunch of weight, and he’s kind of gone from a boy to a man.”

Tiz The Bomb’s record last year was something a little special. He landed three wins in five starts, including the Grade Two Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland, while his run at Del Mar in November helped push his earnings to over $617,000. A cursory glance at those results reveals that he achieved most of that on turf. That said, McPeek has no concerns about switching surface back to dirt as he unleashes the colt onto the Kentucky Derby trail.

“He’s not going to have any trouble handling dirt,” say McPeek rather emphatically. “He’s out of a Tiz Now mare and his top line is War Front and they handle dirt fine. I think this horse can run on any surface and he handled the dirt for his maiden win. I think the question is, really, how good can he be on the dirt too?”

Phoenix Thoroughbreds have had two runners in the Kentucky Oaks but yet to see their white and orange silks carried around under the twin spires in the colt’s classic. McPeek’s trainee will carry their hopes of making it to the first leg of the triple crown via a tried and trusted path.

“It looks pretty clear at this point he’s going to be on the Florida schedule,” says McPeek of his race plan for the colt. “The Holy Bull looks like an ideal starting point for him. We need to get some points and ideally, he’d then come back in the Fountain of Youth. The dream scenario would be he’d go Holy Bull, Fountain Of Youth then the Florida Derby, but we’ll see.”

As mentioned, the three-year-old has been spending his workdays alongside Lucky 7 Stable’s Smile Happy, the winner of the Jockey Club Stakes. While McPeek will be keeping the pair apart as much as possible on race day, he does admit having class horses available to breeze together has some significant advantages.

“You need a fast horse to work with a fast horse, so it makes my job a little easier. It reminds me of year son back when I had horses like Take Charge Lady and Repent who would work together. Logistically it’s tricky when you have a fast horse and slow horse working together, so you need good matches and these to match really well. In preparing them both, it will make the job easier.”

The Holy Bull Stakes is scheduled to be run at Gulfstream on February 5.