SARATOGA SPRINGS — One of the laws of nature is cause and effect, for which every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
Never mind that, Tiz the Law was a force of nature on Saturday.
There was no reaction, at least not from the six rivals who could only helplessly scramble behind him.
He took control at the quarter pole of the 151st Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course and never looked back, only forward, as the New York-bred colt gave Sackatoga Stable and trainer Barclay Tagg their first Travers and even more reason to believe a Triple Crown is on the horizon.
Ridden by Manny Franco, Tiz the Law put away the Bob Baffert-trained Uncle Chuck and won by 5 1/2 lengths, as Caracaro won the race for second place.
Tiz the Law’s connections have checked off two huge boxes with this colt, the Belmont Stakes and Travers, races they failed to win 17 years ago after Funny Cide had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
In the topsy-turvy stakes schedule this year, they’ll continue to point toward both of those with even more confidence.
“It’s fabulous,” Sackatoga operating manager Jack Knowlton said. “We’re getting redemption 17 years later. Tiz won the Belmont, now he won the Travers. It’s quite an accomplishment for our little stable of New York-breds, for Barclay Tagg training our New York-bred to win the biggest races in New York. We’re just thrilled to death.
“We’re the third New York-bred to win this race, the first New York-bred in 138 years to win the Belmont Stakes. It says to me that this accomplishment is something that is pretty spectacular. Barclay, [assistant trainer] Robin [Smullen] and the whole team, they made it all happen.”
“I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve always wanted to win the Travers,” said Tagg, who saddled his first winner in 1972. “This has been in my head my whole life. And now it happened, so it couldn’t be better.
“You always have some doubt because many different things can happen. That’s always in the back of your mind, but I was very confident in the horse.”
Tiz the Law, the first New York-bred to win the Travers since Thunder Rumble in 1992, removed all doubt with a powerful, sweeping move on the second turn and rolled home in front of an empty grandstand, with fans barred from the grounds because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After crossing the wire, Franco pointed repeatedly at the back of his colt’s neck, in acknowledgment of the dominating performance.
“I can’t explain how I feel right now,” Franco said. “I knew all the support was there, even without the crowd, I felt everyone was watching me. I want to say thank you to Jack Knowlton, the owner, and the trainer, Barclay Tagg, and Robin and [groom] Juan [Barajas]. They did a great job with this horse.
“He gave me chills. When I pressed the button, he just took off. He accelerated really hard. After that, I took a peek back, and he was going away and I just saved horse.”
“We saw a performance today that just blows me away,” Knowlton said. “We know we had a nice horse. We thought we had the best horse. To do what he did today, we’re looking forward to going to Kentucky now.”
Tiz the Law has won all four of his races in 2020, the last three of which have been Grade I’s, and earned 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby that he did not need.
Tiz the Law was the 1-2 betting favorite, and although Franco dialed him down in the final sixteenth of a mile, he still posted a finishing time of 2:00.95 that ranks fifth all-time in the 118 of 151 editions of the Travers that were run at a mile and a quarter. Honest Pleasure ran 2:00.20 in 1976, General Assembly set a track record at 2:00.00 in 1979, Easy Goer ran 2:00.80 in 1989 and Arrogate broke General Assembly’s record in 2016 with a 1:59.36.
Tiz the Law, a son of constitution who was born at Sequel Stallions in Hudson, did it by outdueling the Bob Baffert-trained Uncle Chuck, ridden by Luis Saez, down the backstretch, then running away from everybody else, as Franco took a peek behind him at the quarter pole.
“I thought we were going to get away from him after a half-mile, but Tiz the Law was right there and just kept on going,” Saez said.
“I didn’t expect a race like that, but we’ll take it,” Franco said. “He ran huge. He was there the whole way for me and I was just waiting for the moment, because it is a long way to go — a mile and a quarter — and he hasn’t gone that distance before, so I’m trying to save as much horse as I could before I made my move. I had a lot in the tank and I was just trying to save horse, because there’s still three or four more races to go, so I have to save some horse.”
“I thought Manny rode him just right,” Tagg said. “Both Manny and I thought another horse would go with him, the Baffert horse. Manny rode him perfect.
“It’s the way I thought he would be all along. I thought he’d have to come to Uncle Chuck into the stretch and he would go by him if he quit. It went so easy for him, which is fine with me, too. The easier, the better.”
It’s four weeks until the Derby, and Tiz the Law will spend most of that time at Tagg’s barn in Saratoga.
He’ll get 10 days of the easy life, then Tagg will formulate the next workout pattern leading up to the Derby.
“I think this is a good thing to happen because of the time we’re passing right now,” Franco said. “A New York-bred winning the Travers, I think that will make New York happy.”
“I wish there were 50,000-plus people here to see this performance live,” Knowlton said. “We’re fortunate that we’re able to run these races, we’re fortunate that NYRA was able to make accommodations for owners to be here. It’s something I’ll never forget. Probably after winning the Derby, which is the highlight of anyone in this sport, this would be No. 2.”