You can’t always get what you want.
But sometimes … it doesn’t really matter.
The Sackatoga Stable camp had their preferred set of post positions for Saturday’s 152nd Belmont Stakes, and although their horse Tiz the Law will break a little outside of that sweet spot, in post No. 8, the altered track configuration for this edition of the Belmont probably makes post position less of a factor in the eventual outcome.
The fact that Tiz the Law is such a talent probably makes post position moot entirely.
The race drew a 10-horse field on Wednesday, and Florida Derby winner Tiz the Law was installed as the 6-5 favorite on the morning line, with Dr Post, at 5-1, the next closest.
Based on the potential size of the field and the horses who were targeting the Belmont, which will serve as the first leg of the Triple Crown, trainer Barclay Tagg had said that he’d like to see Tiz the Law in posts 5, 6 or 7.
“I asked him [Tiz the Law] this morning, and he said ‘Don’t worry about it,'” Tagg joked at the post position draw in the Belmont clubhouse. “Nothing seems to faze him in any way. I’d have rather been a little closer [post position-wise], but I don’t think it makes much of a difference. He’s coming in good. I can’t be happier with him.”
“I’m very happy,” Sackatoga managing partner Jack Knowlton said. “Being outside in the 8 post gives [jockey] Manny [Franco] the opportunity to pretty much put Tiz where he wants to, get him in his favorite stalking position and hopefully make the kind of run you’ve seen him make in Florida, on the outside, and get to the finish line first.”
The field, in post position order from the rail out, with trainer and jockey in parentheses, will be:
Tap It to Win (Mark Casse, John Velazquez); Sole Volante (Patrick Biancone, Luca Panici); Max Player (Linda Rice, Joel Rosario); Modernist (Bill Mott, Junior Alvarado); Farmington Road (Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano); Fore Left (Doug O’Neill, Jose Ortiz); Jungle Runner (Steve Asmussen, Reylu Gutierrez); Tiz the Law (Barclay Tagg, Manny Franco); Dr Post (Todd Pletcher, Irad Ortiz, Jr.); Pneumatic (Steve Asmussen, Ricardo Santana, Jr.).
The race will be conducted with no spectators on the grounds and will be broadcast by NBC during a show that begins at 2:45 p.m. Scheduled post time for the Belmont Stakes is 5:42.
The Grade I $1 million Belmont will also offer qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, rescheduled to Sept. 5 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the stakes schedule disrupted, the New York Racing Association moved the Belmont to June 20 and cut the distance back from a mile and a half to nine furlongs, which puts the field all the way to the back of the long chute at the top of the backstretch.
The horses will have about a half-mile straightaway into the first turn, as opposed to running one full lap around two turns on the main track.
“I think it’s a lot less,” Knowlton said, of the post position impact on a nine-furlong race at Belmont. “I certainly wouldn’t have been too happy with the 1, 2 or 3 post, just because we know he enjoys being on the outside and making his run. For any horse, it’s easier if you’ve got a clear path, rather than having to go between horses, and get holes shut and all of that that can happen in a race.
“I’m pleased, and I know Barclay had said 5-to-7 would have been his preference, but I don’t think he’s going to feel too bad about 8, either.”
Like Tagg, Rice said she wanted Max Player to be in the 5-7 section, too, and settled for two stalls inside of that, with the 3.
“I would prefer to be little further to the outside with a horse that doesn’t like kickback, but we are where we are,” she said.
One horse who might not mind the 1 hole is Tap It to Win, the 6-1 fourth choice, behind Tiz the Law, Sole Volante (9-2) and Dr Post (5-1).
“We’re the [early] speed in the race, so the rail shouldn’t hurt us as much as it might’ve hurt other horses in the race,” Casse’s assistant Jamie Begg said. “There’s speed outside of us, so it’s not favorable necessarily, but I feel like with his style of running it shouldn’t make as much of a difference.”
Saturday’s 12-race card will feature six graded stakes and four Grade I’s, including the $250,000 Woody Stephens, the $300,000 Acorn for 3-year-old fillies and the $250,000 Jaipur.