If current events have you wondering about the Law, fear not as you are going to find out all about it come June 20.
The topsy turvy world we live in has now landed the Belmont Stakes as the opening leg of the Triple Crown. Normally this challenging series for three-year old Thoroughbreds features this race as the closing “test of a champion”. For one particular New York-bred runner, it doesn’t really matter when the race is contested, he’s going to be there with bells on.
Tiz The Law has been one of the most highly respected Kentucky Derby contenders since the calendar turned to 2020. An impressive score in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park last October put him on the map and he has done nothing to diminish that during a sparkling two race campaign as a three-year old.
The Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on February 1 saw this son of Constitution stalk the pace and pull away to a three-length win. The Florida Derby on March 28 was more of the same as once again a stalking trip under Manny Franco saw the Law lay it all down in the stretch. A resounding 4 ¼ length triumph sent him to the head of the Kentucky Derby contender class.
If memory serves us correctly and we do some fact-checking, we have established this Sackatoga Stable owned colt is a New York-bred…does that go in the same sentence as Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown contender?
The answer here is a big old yes as these boys from upstate New York have proven you can win the world’s most famous race and contend for the Triple Crown with a pony from the Empire State. Back in 2003 these same good fellas rode their school bus to Churchill Downs and shook up the world. Funny Cide ran huge in becoming the first and only New York-bred to win the Kentucky Derby and he was also the first gelding to capture the Roses since 1929 (Clyde Van Dusen). Following that up with a Gotham party at the Preakness, things got even better. Unfortunately, Funny Cide couldn’t close the deal in the Belmont and Triple Crown glory eluded them.
Back now another talented New York-bred, these same back-yard barbecue buddies are at it again. As is the case with anyone that has a talented three-year old, the Kentucky Derby is the focus as soon as the calendar turns to January. Sackatoga’s managing partner, Jack Knowlton was focused on the first Saturday in May with his talented colt, but now has shifted his focus to arguably the home state’s biggest race in this division.
“In this absolutely upside down year we are very anxious to run in the Belmont Stakes,” says Knowlton. “It’s important for us to run in this one for sure. We are proud to carry the flag for the New York-bred program. He’s showing the world we can breed some top notch horses in this state.”
Familiarity with the track is also a nice thing for the Barclay Tagg-trained colt. The Champagne score has shown he has an affinity for the surface and he gets to run out of his own stall.
“It’s his home track and we know he can win there already,” says Knowlton. “He’s coming in fresh and we think the change in distance will work out just fine.”
For the first time since 1926, the Belmont Stakes will be conducted at a distance other than a mile and a half. Since it is now the first race in the Triple Crown series, the Belmont will be conducted at a mile and an eighth. Having won at that distance in his last start (Florida Derby), Knowlton hopes things can work out equally as well.
“(Jockey) Manny Franco did an excellent job of working out the perfect stalking trip in the Florida Derby,” says Knowlton. “He broke well and was able to put himself in a great position throughout the race. We can only hope for more of the same in this one-turn race at the same distance.”
The Belmont Stakes is the immediate focus for what is currently New York’s finest in the three-year old male division. The Law wants to defend the home dirt, but Knowlton and the friends at Sackatoga are thinking Kentucky Derby as well.
“We understand how this game can change at any time so our main concern is keeping Tiz The Law healthy and sound,” says Knowlton. “We look very forward to a trip to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in September. I don’t think we know yet just how good he is because (jockey) Manny (Franco) has not had to really get after him. The Belmont will no doubt be a big test.”
Tiz The Law has won four of five career races and finished third in his only start at Churchill Downs (Jockey Club Stake November 30,2019). He is currently ranked number one in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Three-Year Old poll.