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LEXINGTON, KY – Despite breaking through the gate during the loading process, trainer Kenny McPeek’s Tiz the Bomb broke through for his first graded score in Sunday’s $200,000 Castle & Key Bourbon Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.
The Bourbon is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, awarding an automatic berth in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar this November.
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No worse for the wear despite his pre-race mishap, Tiz the Bomb exited post 12 under Brian Hernandez Jr. as the 5/2 favorite and hustled up to clear most of his rivals and settle into a close stalking position in fourth entering the clubhouse turn.
Heaven Street was keen to run early while posting fractions of :22.94, :47.54, and 1:12.86 while Play Action Pass gave closest watch, then ranged up in the far turn to take command.
Despite slipping back slightly while cornering, Tiz the Bomb tipped out at the top of the stretch and launched a wide rally down the center of the course.
Taking the lead near the 1/16 pole, Tiz the Bomb held his lead safely through to the wire, crossing 3/4 of a length clear while completing the 1 1/16-mile good turf route in 1:43.69.
“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,” said Hernandez Jr. “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.”
Stolen Base rallied with a flourish from 11th to take second by a 1/2-length over Credibility, with Red Danger another 3/4 of a length behind in fourth.
“I would think the Breeders’ Cup is still on the table,” said Stolen Base trainer Mike Maker, who saddled last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf champion. “He ran a good race. He was a little further back than I expected but he finished strong.”
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 completed the order of finish in the field of 2-year-olds. Also-Eligibles Red Run and Vivar scratched.
Tiz the Bomb’s win was his third straight after finishing seventh in his career unveiling, a 5-furlong dirt sprint at Churchill Downs. The Hit It a Bomb colt, purchased for $330,000 as a yearling, earned his first stakes title last out in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile, has now earned $447,841.
“This horse has got a lot of talent and we’re fortunate to have a guy like Brian who handles things on the oval,” McPeek said. “He does a great job.”
Tiz the Bomb returned $7.80 to win, $4.60 to place, and $3.80 to show. Stolen Base brought back $8.20 to place and $6.40 to show. Credibility paid $20.40 to show.
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