ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Ken McPeek will send out a pair of Grade 1 Kentucky Derby alumni in Tiz the Bomb and Classic Causeway in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational, the 10-furlong first leg of the Caesars Turf Triple Series.
The Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational will again launch the male division of the Caesars Turf Triple series that encompasses the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational at 1 3/16-miles on August 6 and the Grade 3, $1 million Caesars Jockey Club Derby Invitational at 12 furlongs during the Belmont fall meet.
“Both of these horses – if they run well – will come back in the Saratoga Derby,” McPeek said. “These are really important races in their own right. It’s a chance for either colt to win a Grade 1 and we know for value as a stallion that’s important.”
Owned by McPeek’s Magdalena Racing, Tiz the Bomb is an omni-surface star, boasting wins on dirt, turf and synthetic. The Hit It a Bomb colt graduated last July in an off-the-turf maiden special weight at Ellis Park to kick off a three-race win streak that included turf scores in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile in September and the Grade 2 Bourbon in October at Keeneland. He closed to finish second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in November at Del Mar.
Tiz the Bomb returned with an off-the-board effort in the Grade 3 Holy Bull in February over the Gulfstream Park dirt before taking both the John Battaglia Memorial in March and Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks in April over the Turfway Park synthetic.
He finished ninth last out in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs.
“He’s doing really well,” McPeek said. “He’s been training here in Kentucky on the grass all spring since the Derby and we’re excited to get him back on turf.
“I think he’s definitely a better grass horse than a dirt horse,” McPeek added. “He’s really intelligent. I think the sire line is a little more grass, but he handles about everything.”
Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper’s Classic Causeway, by Giant’s Causeway and out of the Thunder Gulch mare Private World, will make his turf debut in the Belmont Derby.
The talented chestnut, previously trained by Brian Lynch, captured the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis in February and the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby one month later before faltering to last-of-11 in the Grade 1 Florida Derby in April at Gulfstream Park. He finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby and was then transferred to McPeek, posting a prominent third-place effort last out in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Ohio Derby on June 25 at Thistledown.
“We tried to rate him a little bit, but he’s a really headstrong horse early in the race,” McPeek said. “I think he’s got his mind set on go when he leaves the gate and we’re trying to re-tool him a little bit and get him to turn off for a bit. He’s a really smart horse. Tactics wise in the Ohio Derby, I would have liked to have seen him rated a little further back and then make a run. But he fought to the finish and ran a real respectable third.
“I hate running the two against each other, but I think it’s the right spot for both of them,” he added.
Julien Leparoux will retain the mount on Classic Causeway, while Dylan Davis, leading rider at the Belmont spring/summer meet, picks up the mount on Tiz the Bomb.
Fern Circle Stables, Back Racing and Magdalena Racing’s Creative Minister, a last-out fifth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 11, will make his next start in the nine-furlong $135,000 Curlin on July 29 at Saratoga with an eye to a start in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 27.
Creative Minister, a game third in the Grade 1 Preakness in May at Pimlico, breezed a half-mile in 48.36 Saturday over the Oklahoma dirt training track.
“The Curlin is the spot for him and if he were to win it, we’d come back in the Travers,” McPeek said. “He’s a colt that’s done real well. He just had a little half-mile breeze over the Oklahoma training track yesterday and I think the Curlin is a real good spot for him.”
McPeek said Creative Minister may not have appreciated his first trip over Big Sandy in the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes.
“I don’t think he handled the surface all that well at Belmont,” McPeek said. “He got really tired over it. It’s a tricky track to race over and I believe that horses stabled at Belmont have a distinct advantage racing at Belmont, especially in a race of that distance that time of year.”
McPeek said Creative Minister is likely to breeze over the main track at Saratoga ahead of the Curlin.
“Most of my horses train over the Oklahoma training track and I think it’s a little bit deeper than some other surfaces we work with. It takes a little time to acclimate,” McPeek said. “He’ll probably get a work or two over the main track, too.”
McPeek said Phoenix Thoroughbred III’s Crazy Beautiful, a rallying second last out in the Lady Jacqueline on June 25 at Thistledown, will be under consideration for pair of nine-furlong tilts at the Spa, including the Grade 2, $200,000 Shuvee on July 24 and the $135,000 Summer Colony on August 19. The Summer Colony is restricted to older fillies and mares that have not won a graded stakes this year.
“If she’s doing well enough, she’ll show up in the Shuvee,” McPeek said.
The multiple graded-stakes winning 4-year-old daughter of Liam’s Map boasts a record of 18-7-5-1 with purse earnings in excess of $1 million.
NYRA Press Office
Photo of Kenny McPeek by Coady Photography