Altoona, IA / August 22, 2022 - The two early season stars of the 2022 Thoroughbred meet at Prairie Meadows, Iowa Derby (listed) winner Ain’t Life Grand and two-time juvenile stakes winner Tyler’s Tribe, are both scheduled to make their next starts on Saturday August 27.

For three-year-old Ain’t Life Grand (Not This Time-Cat d’Oro by Medaglia d’Oro), the waters will get much deeper in the G1 $1,250,000 Travers Stakes at Saratoga in New York.

The Iowa Derby winner is expected to face the likes of G1 Kentucky Derby hero Rich Strike, G1 Preakness winner Early Voting, G1 Haskell champion Cyberknife, and G2 Jim Dandy winner Epicenter.

Ain’t Life Grand, owned by RPM Thoroughbreds of Prairie Meadows Hall of Famers Peggy and Ray Shattuck and trained by Prairie Meadows Hall of Famer Kelly Von Hemel, takes a two-race winning streak, five lifetime victories in eight starts, and earnings of almost $400,000 into the marquee stakes race of the summer season at Saratoga.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Ray Shattuck. “I can’t wait to get there. I’ve got a group of 15 heading with me to Saratoga to cheer him on!”

Von Hemel was on hand at Saratoga on Saturday morning August 20 when Ain’t Life Grand got in a final workout one week ahead of the Travers, logging the best drill of 80 runners at four furlongs in 45.88b.

“It was a bit faster than we wanted it to be,” noted Von Hemel. “But the clockers told me the track was very fast and there were a lot of quick workouts on the tab.”

“Tammy Fox, who works a lot of horses for trainer Dale Romans, told me he did it easily and comfortably,” added Von Hemel. “She said he was fantastic and did it all on his own. He came back and he wasn’t breathing hard at all.”

Von Hemel reported that jockey Tyler Gaffalione will pick up the mount when Ain’t Life Grand makes his New York debut.

Gaffalione replaces Elvin Gonzalez, the Prairie Meadows-based jockey who has ridden Ain’t Life Grand in all eight of his lifetime races.

Meanwhile, Tyler’s Tribe (Sharp Azteca-Impazible Woman) will continue to test the local juvenile stakes ranks in the 14th running of the $100,000-guaranteed Prairie Meadows Freshman at six furlongs.

The precocious gelding owned by Prairie Meadows Hall of Famer Tom Lepic and trainer Tim Martin is a perfect three-for-three, including a pair of double-digit margin wins, under talented apprentice jockey Kylee Jordan.

“He’s doing great!” That was the latest from Lepic. “He’s coming into the race as ready as he could be.”

Tyler’s Tribe debuted against Iowa-bred maidens on June 20, breaking from the outside post position at 4 ½ furlongs, grabbing an early lead, and going on to win by 16 lengths.

On July 9, the gelding stretched out to 5 ½ furlongs, faced open company for the first time, and again led every step of the way as he won the $122,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile by over eight lengths.

In his most recent start, Tyler’s Tribe scored a third straight wire-to-wire tally on July 30 as he won the $94,000 Iowa Stallion Futurity by a dozen lengths.

“He makes it look easy,” said trainer Tim Martin after the race. “He’s behaved like a professional since the first day he came to the barn. It looks like the sky’s the limit!”

Tyler’s Tribe also puts an emotional “back story” in the spotlight as the gelding is named after Lepic’s grandson who is battling childhood leukemia.

The Lepic family and friends have had a large contingent representing “Tyler’s Tribe” in the winner’s circle after each of the gelding’s victories.

“Tyler has been such a trooper throughout his illness,” said Lepic. “We wanted to give him some fun and excitement this summer and we couldn’t have asked for anything better!”

“You never know how these young horses are going to turn out,” Lepic added. “But I told Tyler I really thought we’d found ‘a racehorse’ for him and, so far, so good!”

Tyler’s Tribe drew the outside post position in a field of six for his first try at six panels. The field for the 2022 running of the Prairie Meadows Freshman, carded as the 9th race on Saturday August 27, will be: 1) Dixiemagic, 2) Echo Canyon, 3) Succession, 4) Runtoday, 5) Mister Sharpie, and 6) Tyler’s Tribe.


About Prairie Meadows

Prairie Meadows began operations as a nonprofit organization in 1989 with the goal of promoting economic development, jobs, agriculture, and tourism in the state of Iowa. Through taxes, grants, and charitable donations, Prairie Meadows has given more than $2.1 billion to the state of Iowa. Prairie Meadows offers slot machines, table games, live and simulcast racing, sports wagering, hotel accommodations, entertainment, and more.

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