January 30, 2023

Kentucky Derby Report: Tiz the Law solidifies favoritism

Tiz the Law wins the Belmont Stakes
Tiz the Law proved much the best in the Belmont Stakes (Coglianese Photos)

A new wave of challengers is coming for Tiz the Law, but it may not matter. The standard bearer of the 3-year-old division, Tiz the Law kicked off the Triple Crown with an odds-on win in the June 20 Belmont Stakes (G1), scoring by 3 3/4 lengths at a shortened 1 1/8-mile distance, and the New York-bred son of Constitution has one more prep planned before the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Now 3-for-3 this year, Tiz the Law has posted top-notch Brisnet Speed ratings (108-100-106) for Barclay Tagg. If the bay colt carries his form forward with another sharp win in the 1 1/4-mile Travers (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 8, Tiz the Law could wind up being the shortest-priced Kentucky Derby favorite this century. Point Given, who finished fifth at 1.80-1 odds in the 2001 Derby, currently holds the distinction.

Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Honor A. P. rates as the top challenger presently. A smashing maiden winner when stretching out to two turns in his second start last October, the son of Honor Code came back from a five-month layoff to finish second in the San Felipe (G2) in March. Honor A. P. moved forward for trainer John Shirreffs in June 6 Santa Anita Derby, drawing off to a 2 3/4-length decision at the 1 1/8-mile trip, and netted an outstanding 108 Speed rating. He’s targeting the 1 1/16-mile Shared Belief S. at Del Mar on Aug. 1.

More than two months remain until the Kentucky Derby, and a group of lightly-raced contenders will be looking to make an impact in the coming weeks.

Bob Baffert unveiled a pair of runaway debut maiden winners in June, Cezanne and Uncle Chuck, who will look to earn points toward a possible Kentucky Derby bid. Both received support in Pool 5 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager last weekend.

Cezanne, a $3.5 million son of Curlin who won at 6 1/2 furlongs at first asking, will use a two-turn allowance at Los Alamitos Thursday as a springboard to stakes company. He was bet down as the 19-1 sixth choice among individual interests. Uncle Chuck, the 13-1 fourth choice behind Tiz the Law (2-1), Honor A. P. (6-1), and Authentic (11-1) in Pool 5, will head to either the July 11 Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland or July 18 Haskell (G1) at Monmouth Park after opening his career with a seven-length triumph in a two-turn maiden race.

Café Pharoah has emerged as an intriguing Japanese contender. The Kentucky-bred son of American Pharoah possesses good tactical speed and appears built for longer distances, and he remained perfect with a stylish five-length romp in the June 21 Unicorn (G3) at Tokyo. Café Pharoah has captured his three starts by a combined 16 1/4 lengths and connections are committed to a Kentucky Derby bid.

Art Collector, who switched from turf to dirt last fall, has generated a buzz by recording three straight convincing allowance wins on the main track, stretching out to 1 1/16 miles with a 6 1/2-length tally at Churchill Downs on June 13. By Travers winner Bernardini and from a stamina-infused female family, the Tommy Drury-trained Art Collector registered a career-best 103 Speed rating, as well as a 114 Brisnet Late Pace figure, in advance of his first dirt stakes appearance, and he was bet down to 20-1 in Pool 5.

Dr Post finished second to Tiz the Law when making his first graded stakes attempt in the Belmont Stakes and still has potential upside for Todd Plether. The two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer also has Money Moves, a son of Candy Ride who improved to 2-for-2 with a 2 3/4-length win over a deep group of allowance foes at Gulfstream Park on March 27, readying for his first stakes start in possibly the Blue Grass.

Creed and Mystic Guide are a couple of other promising 3-year-olds to watch, and top 3-year-old filly Swiss Skydiver may join the Kentucky Derby trail in the Blue Grass. We’ll keep tabs on the action with nine qualifying races remaining in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.