No Denying Tiz A Gamble On Dirt

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Tiz The Bomb | Coady

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There's nothing like giving up on a stallion, and offloading him overseas, to guarantee a sudden transformation in his fortunes. The latest exile to rebuke his vendors is Race Day, who was exported to Korea 18 months ago but last Saturday turned out to have left behind not only GI Florida Derby winner White Abarrio but also GI Arkansas Derby runner-up Barber Road.

But if this industry is too unpredictable for even a team as alert as Spendthrift to win every time, their program will reliably even things out. And just 15 minutes before the success of White Abarrio, who was bred on the farm before being cheaply sold, another Spendthrift graduate had booked a GI Kentucky Derby starting gate of his own.

Tiz The Bomb's success in the GIII Jeff Ruby S. quickly ended talk of an audacious raid on the storied British Classic, the G1 Qipco 2,000 Guineas. However he fares at Churchill, this colt is already a feather in the cap of a stallion still fighting his corner at the same end of the Spendthrift roster that once featured Race Day–and, in the process, serving a key priority of the farm's late owner B. Wayne Hughes, in trying to look after its less affluent clients.

Hit It A Bomb was launched at $7,000 in 2017 before slipping to $5,000 even before he made what proved a fairly low-key debut at the yearling sales. The fact is that the GI Breeders' Cup Turf Juvenile winner, though an unbeaten juvenile by War Front, has never mustered the kind of support enjoyed by so many other young stallions on this farm–presumably because of the usual aversion of Kentucky's commercial breeders to grass pedigrees and performance. His first two books did not quite reach 50 mares, and his third dwindled to just 20.

Obviously there's a limit to what can be sensibly gleaned from his commercial performance, from such a modest footprint, but he showed what he could do with the right opportunity when Spendthrift paired him, in his second season, with a Tiznow mare whose aristocratic family we'll consider shortly. As a yearling the resulting colt sold (through Eaton Sales) to Kenny McPeek for $330,000 at the post-lockdown “Showcase” auction staged by Fasig-Tipton.

Needless to say, that transaction was central to Hit It A Bomb's unusual achievement in advancing the average of his second crop of yearlings ($47,916 from $30,153), but it's worth noting that his median also improved ($23,500 from $13,000).

Anyway this colt was, of course, Tiz The Bomb. He offered little immediate promise in his first venture onto the Churchill dirt, beating only one rival in a sprint maiden a year ago next week, but his tour of the other Kentucky tracks has told us rather more. Stepped up to a mile for an off-the-turf maiden at Ellis Park, he won by over 14 lengths before switching to grass to win a stakes at Kentucky Downs and a Grade II at Keeneland. He then left the state to prove best of the home team in the race won by his sire at the Breeders' Cup despite a messy trip. We have to put a line through his resumption in the GII Holy Bull S., but back in Kentucky he has now regrouped with consecutive wins on the synthetic track at Turfway Park.

Tiz The Bomb will plainly take one or two question marks into the Derby, and the answers lurking in his pedigree do not appear terribly encouraging. Its most consistent element, however, is quality–with Hit It A Bomb's own family tree stacking up pretty respectably against the exceptional maternal line introduced by Tiz The Bomb's dam.

The most blatant genetic note in Hit It A Bomb himself is an extremely proximate combination of the two principal international conduits of the Northern Dancer revolution: with Danzig as grandsire, and Sadler's Wells as damsire. (Additionally his second dam is by Danzig's grandson Danehill Dancer (Ire), while his fourth dam is by another fount of Northern Dancer in Be My Guest.) A more understated duplication meanwhile features Forli (Arg), whose excellence as a distaff influence is attested here by both Special, granddam of Sadler's Wells, and also War Front's second dam.

Overall there's no getting away from the fact that Hit It A Bomb's family carries a ton of chlorophyll. Four of his first five dams are by sires branded principally by their work in Europe: Sadler's Wells, Danehill Dancer, Be My Guest and Vaguely Noble (Ire). His third dam is by Private Account—primarily associated with dirt in the U.S., as we'd expect of a son of Damascus standing in Kentucky, but also sire of a couple of notable turf achievers for the Niarchos family in East Of The Moon and Chimes Of Freedom.

Hit It A Bomb was bred by the venerable Mrs. Evie Stockwell (mother of Coolmore boss John Magnier) from Liscanna (Ire), who had mustered both her wins, one at Group 3 level, over just six furlongs—hardly a common distinction in a daughter of Sadler's Wells. No fewer than five of Liscanna's nine named foals are by War Front, and two of them won elite prizes as juveniles for Mrs. Stockwell: Hit It A Bomb himself, and Brave Anna, who like her mother majored in speed by adding the G1 Cheveley Park S. to her G3 Albany S. success at Royal Ascot. (Winning both those races, incidentally, by a short head!)

Liscanna's mother Lahinch (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) was another brisk performer, as a stakes winner at five and seven furlongs. She did introduce a little more stamina to the family record through two daughters of Galileo (Ire), respectively runners-up in the G1 Epsom Oaks and a nine-furlong Group 2; and while Galileo obviously loaded a ton of staying power into his stock, Lahinch also produced a son by the miler Hawk Wing to win a Listed race at 10 furlongs.

On the whole, however, this family is flavored by quite a bit of speed and War Front was hardly going to dilute that. Admittedly Hit It A Bomb only ran them down on the line at the Breeders' Cup, but that was primarily down to a very wide draw. So you could argue that the obvious caveats about Tiz The Bomb, regarding the dirt, should possibly also extend to the extra furlong awaiting him on the first Saturday in May.

So what help can Tiz The Bomb find, on both fronts, from his maternal family? Well, at first sight, you would take heart from his first two dams–both being by copper-bottomed two-turn dirt influences in Tiznow and A.P. Indy. (And don't forget that Tiznow's remarkable dam Cee's Song is by Seattle Song, like A.P. Indy a son of Seattle Slew.)

But the name that really pegs down Tiz The Bomb's pedigree is that of his fifth dam. For she is none other than Gay Missile, the granddam of A.P. Indy's mother Weekend Surprise. (Weekend Surprise, of course, was by Secretariat–whose half-brother Sir Gaylord sired Gay Missile.)

The daughter of Gay Missile who opened this branch of the dynasty founded by her dam Missy Baba (My Babu {Fr}) is Gallanta (Fr), runner-up in the G1 Prix Morny as a sprinting juvenile. The speed of her sire Nureyev would also come through in Gallanta's best daughter, Gay Gallanta (Woodman), who was rated the fastest young filly of her crop in winning the G1 Cheveley Park S. and the G3 Queen Mary S. at Royal Ascot–and would herself produced a pretty quick horse in Byron (GB) (Green Desert).

Though at one remove, with some sturdy influences arising in between, these are not the kind of names to shore up any holes in the stamina of Tiz The Bomb. Gay Gallanta did have a half-brother who lasted 10 furlongs well, earning a place at stud in South Africa, but he was by an extreme stamina influence in Alleged.

Gallanta produced Tiz The Bomb's third dam Mayville's Magic by that diverse influence Gone West. It's hard to draw any conclusions from the career of Mayville's Magic in Britain, as she regressed after winning a sprint maiden on debut. With her illustrious family she had cost as much as $725,000 as a Keeneland September yearling and, given corresponding covers in her second career, she did eventually produce four black-type performers. One, by Giant's Causeway, ran fourth in the GI American Oaks; while A.P. Indy's daughter Cabbage Key had won three in a row before twice placing in minor stakes company.

That was on grass, however, despite the input of A.P. Indy. In producing Tiz The Bomb's dam Tiz The Key from Cabbage Key, then, Tiznow really needs to have poured his love of dirt into the genetic equation–and by the barrel–if Tiz The Bomb is to vindicate the switch back to that surface.

Tiz The Key certainly restored some ability to this rather slumbrous corner of the Gay Missile legacy. Her physique got a $330,000 vote of confidence from Spendthrift as a September yearling and, sent to Richard Mandella, she did break her maiden on the dirt. But she was then stepped up to 10 furlongs of grass to follow up in an allowance race, and then emulated her “aunt” by running fourth in the GI American Oaks.

It cannot augur well for Tiz The Bomb's Derby challenge that his first two dams, though by avowed dirt influences in Tiznow and A.P. Indy, both ended up on the grass. With very little help available from his sire, in terms of dirt, this pedigree looks a pretty fragile foundation for the “Derby fever” that has, understandably with all those gate points in the bank, now altered his schedule.

On one level, it feels rather a shame that Tiz The Bomb won't be going to Newmarket. He has shown exciting talent on turf/synthetics and would have introduced an exotic factor on the Rowley Mile. But if the renewed dirt gamble does not pay off, he will naturally retain every chance to regroup.

Let's hope he can do so, as his sire deserves credit for stoking up embers of quality in a rather dormant branch of the Gay Missile family. Though facing some pretty steep commercial odds, Hit It A Bomb has also had a Grade I winner on dirt in Argentina; while his debut crop did include GII Best Pal S. winner Weston, albeit that horse has slithered down the grades since.

It must be said that the Guineas looked like Tiz The Bomb's best shot in the British Classics: the severe stamina test at Epsom, certainly, would look a highly speculative next move should the Kentucky Derby not work out. That's because the unusually “green” tinge under the dirt influences along the bottom line is complemented, in his sire's own family, by the kind of speed you wouldn't normally expect around Sadler's Wells.

But there would still be a ton of other exciting turf options, either side of the water, to capture the imagination of Tiz the Bomb's adventurous trainer. So it should be a fun ride ahead, regardless, and he's already a five-for-eight millionaire–as much as anyone could ask, clearly, of a stallion standing for $5,000.

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