Battle of Hastings is considered the baby of the field for Saturday's Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland.
The only 3-year-old in a nine-horse lineup, he has endured as rigorous a schedule this year as any of his more seasoned rivals.
Battle of Hastings will attempt to become just the fourth 3-year-old since 1986 to win the $600,000 race when he takes on Grade I winners Mr. Sidney and Court Vision as well as multiple graded stakes winner Justenuffhumor.
That owner Michael House felt confident enough to put his gelding up to this test is a tribute to how much Battle of Hastings has matured the past 12 months.
In his first outing in the United States after making his first five career starts in England, Battle of Hastings had his connections scratching their heads when he ran seventh in a field of eight in the Grade III Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park last November.
However, that forgettable debut was attributed more to a glorified case of jet lag than lack of ability.
Since getting adjusted to his surroundings, Battle of Hastings has won four of six starts including back-to-back scores in the Grade II Colonial Turf Cup and Grade II Virginia Derby.
"We ran him off the plane in that first start, and he didn't know what was going on," House said. "He had never run that direction or anything. (Jockey) Tyler Baze just said he was lost.
"We just started over with him, and (trainer) Jeff Mullins took about three months teaching him the ropes here," House continued. "The last couple of works before his first race this year, Tyler said it was like a light came on with him, and he really hasn't run a bad race for us since."
Battle of Hastings has shown he can deliver at all distances — winning at 61/2 furlongs in the Grade III Baldwin Stakes, at 1 mile in the La Puente at Santa Anita, and at 11/4 mile in the Virginia Derby.
"He seems to have that kick that he'll give it to you whenever you want," House said. "He'll gallop along and when it's time, he'll go. It is pretty unusual for a turf horse to do that, and I think the mile is right in the middle for him."
Understandably, House is reluctant to think too much about a possible trip to Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup in November until he sees how Battle of Hastings handles his elders this weekend.
But should he do well Saturday, Battle of Hastings does own a 2-for-2 record over Santa Anita's downhill turf course.
"If he could make a good showing here, then (the Breeders' Cup) would be something we'd definitely have to think about," House said. "I hesitated about running him against older horses because it will be a real test for him, but ... he's going to have to face them at some point and this is a good opportunity for him."