The John Battaglia Memorial: A Noteworthy Kentucky Derby Preps
The John Battaglia Memorial may not be considered one of the A-list Kentucky Derby preps, but it certainly isn’t an ordinary B-lister either. This race, however, received a significant boost in status with the inclusion of Tiz the Bomb, the Grade 2 Bourbon Stakes winner.
Tiz the Bomb: Looking to Dominate the John Battaglia Memorial
Tiz the Bomb, having secured a victory in the Grade 2 Bourbon Stakes, is undoubtedly the standout contender in the upcoming John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park. This 1 1/16-mile race on Turfway Park’s Tapeta surface serves as a preparatory race for the highly anticipated Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks on April 2, which is regarded as the highlight of the Turfway Park’s Winter Meet.
Despite being the clear frontrunner in this field, don’t expect to see Tiz the Bomb competing at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. Trainer Kenny McPeek revealed that his plan is to race Tiz the Bomb in the 2,000 Guineas on April 30 at Newmarket, followed by the prestigious Epsom Derby on June 4.
Tiz the Bomb’s Rocky Road: The Holy Bull Disappointment
Tiz the Bomb entered the Grade 3 Holy Bull with an impressive track record, including two wins and a second-place finish in his three previous starts. Notable victories in the Bourbon at Keeneland and the Juvenile Mile at Kentucky Downs showcased his talent. Additionally, his runner-up finish to Modern Games in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf further cemented his reputation as a formidable contender.
However, McPeek took a gamble by steering his turf specialist onto the dirt track for the Holy Bull. Unfortunately, Tiz the Bomb’s performance was far from stellar, finishing a disappointing seventh and trailing a distant 20 1/4 lengths behind the winner, White Abarrio. The race notes indicated that Tiz the Bomb raced wide and out of contention from the start, with no apparent mishaps.
McPeek took this race as a valuable lesson. Despite Tiz the Bomb’s maiden victory on dirt at Ellis Park last July, it became evident that his future lies on grass, rather than dirt. The experience of facing dirt thrown in his face during the Holy Bull was a challenge he struggled to overcome.
Looking Across the Atlantic: Tiz the Bomb’s Grass Career
Trainer Kenny McPeek is no stranger to exploring international opportunities for his horses. In the midst of the pandemic two years ago, he contemplated sending Swiss Skydiver to the 1,000 Guineas in the UK. However, logistical challenges prevented him from pursuing that plan. In 2004, McPeek sent Hard Buck to the prestigious Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot, securing a commendable second-place finish.
Now, with Tiz the Bomb’s future on dirt officially ruled out, McPeek has set his sights on the British racing scene. The 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket is the first target, followed by the illustrious Epsom Derby. This decision reflects McPeek’s keen understanding of his colt’s strengths and his desire to compete against the best grass horses on an international stage.
Tiz the Bomb: The Favorite for the Battaglia
Unsurprisingly, Tiz the Bomb has emerged as the 5/2 morning line favorite for the John Battaglia Memorial. This race is named after Turfway Park’s late general manager, John Battaglia, and holds a special significance for Churchill Downs’ morning-line author, Mike Battaglia, who is John’s son.
McPeek aims to utilize the Battaglia as a stepping stone to regain Tiz the Bomb’s confidence and mental fortitude after the disappointing Holy Bull race experience. The adversity faced in that race was unfamiliar territory for the colt, but the Battaglia presents an opportunity to refocus his mind and get back on track towards his grass racing aspirations.
The John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park takes on a newfound significance with the presence of Tiz the Bomb, the Grade 2 Bourbon Stakes winner. While this race may not be on par with the highly prestigious Kentucky Derby preps, it offers an intriguing glimpse into Tiz the Bomb’s journey towards his international grass racing ambitions. As trainer Kenny McPeek sets his sights across the Atlantic, Tiz the Bomb’s performances in the 2,000 Guineas and Epsom Derby will draw the attention of horse racing enthusiasts worldwide.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1: Will Tiz the Bomb compete in the Kentucky Derby?
A1: No, Tiz the Bomb’s trainer, Kenny McPeek, has decided to focus on grass races, ruling out a Kentucky Derby appearance.
Q2: What is Tapeta, the surface used at Turfway Park?
A2: Tapeta is an all-weather synthetic racing surface designed to replicate the characteristics of natural turf, providing a consistent and safe racing experience.
Q3: What are the 2,000 Guineas and Epsom Derby?
A3: The 2,000 Guineas is a prestigious Group 1 flat horse race for three-year-old colts and fillies, held at Newmarket Racecourse in the UK. The Epsom Derby, often referred to as “The Derby,” is one of the most coveted flat races in the world, showcasing the finest three-year-old colts and fillies at Epsom Downs Racecourse.
Q4: Has Tiz the Bomb raced on turf before?
A4: Yes, Tiz the Bomb has demonstrated his prowess on turf with victories in the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland and the Juvenile Mile at Kentucky Downs.
Q5: Will Tiz the Bomb’s experiences in the Battaglia influence his performance in the 2,000 Guineas?
A5: While the Battaglia serves as a preparation race, Tiz the Bomb’s focus will likely be on putting recent setbacks behind him and regaining confidence. His performance in the 2,000 Guineas will be a separate challenge altogether.