LEXINGTON, Ky. – Phoenix Thoroughbred III’s favored Tiz the Bomb, who broke through the gate prior to the start of the race, launched a huge run in the final eighth of a mile to draw away by three-quarters of a length and win the 31st running of the $200,000 Castle & Key Bourbon (G2) for 2-year-olds.
Trained by Kenny McPeek and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., Tiz the Bomb covered the 1 1/16 miles on a turf course labeled as good in 1:43.69. It is the fourth victory in the race for McPeek, whose previous scores came with Pineaff (1998), Rogue Romance (2010) and Lawn Ranger (2014).
Heaven Street, Play Action Pass and Dowagiac Chief dueled for the early lead through fractions of :22.94 and :47.54 as Tiz the Bomb and second choice Red Danger tracked the leaders in the second flight.
As the field bunched up entering the stretch, Red Danger surged to the front while Tiz the Bomb was shuffled back. Tiz the Bomb kicked in again at the eighth pole, surged by the leaders at the sixteenth pole and was unthreatened in the final yards.
On Tiz the Bomb breaking through the gate before the start: “We were ready, we were set up, and as the last horse was walking in, I turned his head to set him to where we could leave the gate in good order. When he did he got a little anxious and just charged forward one step and the gate popped open. Most of the time when that happens horses have a hard time recovering from it, but when we finally reloaded and he left the gate in good order the second time, we were able to get around the first turn in good order. I was really confident in him, and he took care of it from there.” Hernandez remarked.
Now a two-time stakes winner on turf, Tiz the Bomb is a Kentucky-bred son of Hit It a Bomb out of the Tiznow mare Tiz the Key. A winner of three of four starts, Tiz the Bomb increased his earnings to $447,841 with Sunday’s $120,000 check.
McPeek on Tiz the Bomb breaking through the gate before the start: “It’s not a good omen, typically, and yeah, it makes a trainer nervous when it happens, but (jockey) Brian (Hernandez) did a great job wrangling him up and keeping him under control. It’s worse if he comes off or something like that. This horse has got a lot of talent and we’re fortunate to have a guy like Brian who handles things on the oval. He does a great job.”
Tiz the Bomb returned $7.80, $4.60 and $3.80. Stolen Base rallied for second under Flavien Prat and returned $8.20 and $6.40 with Credibility finishing another half-length back in third under Edwin Gonzalez and paying $20.40 show.
It was another three-quarters of a length back to Red Danger, who was followed in order by Dowagiac Chief, Rocket One, Play Action Pass, Lucky Boss, On Thin Ice, Brit’s Wit, Martini’nmoonshine, Heaven Street, Fast N Steady and Waita Minute Hayes.
McPeek had two horses punch tickets to the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland this weekend. The conditioner said Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity-G1 winner Rattle N Roll might bypass the Breeders’ Cup and he commented on his plans for Tiz the Bomb in the Breeders’ Cup.
“I think for this horse definitely the (one-mile) Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Turf-G1) is ideal. Everything happens for a reason. You could have made the case that Tiz the Bomb could have run yesterday for sure, and Rattle N Roll – of course, they’re apples and oranges. It’s a high-level problem we’ve got right now. We’re just going to enjoy this, relish the moment and make those decisions as we get closer,” McPeek explained.
Mike Maker (trainer of runner-up Stolen Base)
“I would think the Breeders’ Cup is still on the table. He ran a good race. He was a little further back than I expected but he finished strong,” Maker commented.
Flavien Prat (rider of Stolen Base)
“The horse ran good. We had a pretty good trip. For a second when I tipped him out, I thought I could get him (Tiz the Bomb), but the winner felt me re-engaging,” Prat said.
Edwin Gonzalez (rider of third-place finisher Credibility)
“I had a good trip but in the stretch, it was a little bit tight,” Gonzalez said.
David Carroll (assistant to Credibility’s trainer, Mark Casse, said: “He just needs a little more experience. He will be a nice horse for the future.”
Click here for a replay of the Castle & Key Bourbon and the post-race interview with winning connections.
Racing resumes Wednesday with an eight-race program beginning at 1 p.m. ET that is highlighted by the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2) for 2-year-old fillies. The stakes is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) to be run Nov. 5 at Del Mar.
For info on the Best Breeders’ Cup Seminar click HERE.
Keeneland Press Release
Photo: Tiz the Bomb (Keeneland/Coady Photography)