Versatility of Jeff Ruby Steaks winner Tiz the Bomb put to the test in Saturday’s 148th Kentucky Derby
By Jessie Oswald
Hopes, dreams and even charity are rolling on Tiz the Bombshell in this Saturday’s $3million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs.
If Kenny McPeek’s apprentice were the first to cross the wire in the 1¼ mile test for 3-year-olds, the victory would not only give the colt his first win as a freshman, but it would give McPeek his first win in the Kentucky Derby after six failed attempts.
“Any horse that wins a million dollars like it’s done so far, that horse has every chance,” McPeek said with a laugh when asked why Tiz the Bomb might be the one to give the coach his elusive victory at the Derby. .
Bred by Spendthrift Farm, Tiz the Bomb is the second generation racer leader by Hit It a Bomb, winner of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He earned $1,044,401 in his short career and won five wins in eight starts. Like his father, Tiz the Bomb excelled on grass, winning the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile Stakes and Keeneland’s Castle & Key Bourbon Stakes on grass before ending his 2-year campaign with a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup. Juvenile grass in Del Mar.
Back on clay for the first time since beating his maiden on the main track at Ellis Park, Tiz the Bomb finished a meager seventh out of nine runners in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park to mark the beginning of its second season. He bounced back quickly in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes on the Tapeta synthetic surface at Turfway Park, holding Stolen Base down by a neck. He followed it up with another win at Turfway in the Jeff Ruby Steaks, commanding a 2¼ length win over runner-up Tawny Port.
“Tiz the Bomb is a total pro,” McPeek said after the horse’s recent work at Churchill Downs. “He’s a horse that I think we can put a little closer to the pace because he’ll have less adversity, which he struggled with in Florida (February 5 Holy Bull Stakes), but he’s done well since. now and with two back-to-back wins, he’s pretty high on himself right now.
Tiz the Bomb’s versatility to perform on any track surface makes it stand out in the Kentucky Derby’s 20-horse field, but not in a good way. Skeptics identified him as a turf horse with little chance of winning on dirt. McPeek says the poor performance on the Holy Bull dirt was positioning, not surface.
“It wasn’t the surface he didn’t manage, it was the rebound,” McPeek explained. “The sand started hitting him in the face at Gulfstream and he sort of got disoriented and never settled down and settled.”
Tiz the Bomb will emerge from the middle of the crowded Kentucky Derby pack, at post nine, with jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. to ride him without trouble.
“You let him run to the first corner and hope he makes a clean run,” McPeek said. “If he has a clean course, he has a better shot. If he has what I call a trip that gives him a lot of adversity, he’s going to have a hard time winning.
If Tiz the Bomb overcomes all adversity and succeeds on Saturday, he would become the first winner of the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park to wear the garland of roses and only the third to win the Jeff Ruby Steaks, formerly known as the Spiral Stakes, for to advance. to victory in the Kentucky Derby.
John Battaglia, the former general manager of Latonia Race Track (now Turfway Park) created the Spiral Stakes in 1972 as a prep race for the Kentucky Derby with the idea that horses could “spiral” up at the Kentucky Derby. John died long before he could see Lil E. Tee soar to a Derby victory in 1992 or Animal Kingdom in 2011 and no horse in the John Battaglia Memorial’s 40 races has been catapulted to a Derby victory.
John’s son and Kentucky Derby punter Mike Battaglia rated Tiz the Bomb 30-1 on the morning line, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a fan of the bay colt.
“I know I’m rooting for him,” Mike Battaglia said. “I would love to see a horse that won my dad’s race win the Kentucky Derby, I think that would be great, but he’s going to have to step it up a notch. It’s really a tough peloton this year.
Tiz the Bomb also has a fan base in bourbon distillery owner Brook Smith, who has a half-sister to Tiz the Bomb, Bel Rosso. Smith bet $10,000 on Tiz the Bomb in Derby Future Wager Pool 2 and pledged the expected payout of $114,000 to the Backside Learning Center, a non-profit organization based at the back of Churchill Downs racecourse .
Yes, there are a lot of people on Tiz the Bomb this Saturday.