July 8, 2020

Tiz the Law romps at odds-on in Belmont Stakes

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

Tiz the Law assumed control leaving the far turn and rolled to an impressive 3 3/4-length victory in the $1 million Belmont Stakes, scoring as the 4-5 favorite in the opening leg of the 2020 Triple Crown.

Owned by Sackatoga Stables and trained by Barclay Tagg, the same connections of 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide, Tiz the Law raced up close from the start and never provided supporters with an anxious moment while being guided by regular rider Manny Franco.

“It looked to me like everything just went like clockwork,” Tagg said. “That’s the way the horse likes to run and that’s the position the horse likes to be in. Manny knows the horse very well. We discussed it quickly before I put him up on the horse, and I felt very confident Manny would ride him that way. I felt pretty solid about halfway down the lane. It’s a good feeling.”

“I was pretty confident by the time when we reached the seven-eighths pole,” Franco said of his trip. “He was so kind, he relaxed for me, and he was so comfortable. He never got keen, so I think that was the key.”

For the first time in its 152-year history, the Belmont Stakes kicked off the Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby comes next on Sept. 5, and the Preakness will complete the series on Oct. 3. Due to the unusual circumstances this year, officials reduced the Belmont Stakes distance to 1 1/8 miles. It had been run at 1 1/2 miles since 1926.

TIz the Law stopped the teletimer in a sharp 1:46.53. It marked the first Triple Crown race win for Franco, and he was asked about the Kentucky Derby in 15 weeks.

“Man, I got the horse for the race,” the jockey said. “I’m very happy for the opportunity…I’m in good hands, (managing partner Jack Knowlton and Tagg) know what they’re doing. And the horse is very good.”

As a late addition to the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the Belmont Stakes awarded points on a 150-60-30-15 scale to the top four finishers. Tiz the Law has earned the most points since the qualifying system was implemented in 2013, increasing his total to 272.

Dr Post, who was exiting a win in the Apr. 25 Unbridled S. at Gulfstream, rallied well to be a clear second in his first graded stakes attempt. The lightly raced colt left the starting gate as the 7-1 third choice for Todd Pletcher. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to Max Player, closed belatedly for third at 14-1 while making his first start since winning the Feb. 1 Withers (G3) at Aqueduct.

Pneumatic came next in fourth and was followed by Tap It to Win, who established early splits in :23.11, :46.16, and 1:09.94 before giving way. Sole Volante, Modernist, Farmington Road, Fore Left, and Jungle Runner completed the order.

By successful first-crop stallion Constitution, who stands at WinStar Farm near Versailles, Kentucky, Tiz the Law became the first New York-bred winner of the Belmont Stakes in 138 years. The bay colt was bred by Twin Creeks Farm, and purchased for $110,000 by Knowlton at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale. He is out of the Grade 2-winning Tiznow mare Tizfiz, who is also the dam of multiple stakes-placed Awestruck, and Tiz the Law counts 1994 Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin as his second maternal broodmare sire.

A debut maiden winner at Saratoga over state-bred foes, Tiz the Law won the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park going away by four lengths in his second start. He sustained his lone setback when concluding his juvenile campaign in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), finishing a troubled third over a sloppy Churchill Downs track in late November.

Tiz the Law came back stronger at age 3, dusting the competition by an easy three-length margin in the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park in early February. He was exiting a 4 1/4-length triumph in the March 28 Florida Derby (G1).

Returning from an 84-day freshening in the Belmont, Tiz the Law increased his earnings to $1,480,300.

“The long-range plan would be the (Aug. 8) Travers (G1), the Derby and then the Preakness,” Tagg said. “After that, they’ll probably want me to take him to the Breeders’ Cup (Classic).”

Tiz the Law also provided connections with a measure of redemption following Funny Cide’s third in the 2003 Belmont Stakes over a sloppy track. Tagg was asked what the accomplishment meant.

“Just everything,” the 82-year-old conditioner said. “I’m just glad I lived long enough, that I got another horse like this.”