This is the future: Last week, Sackatoga Stable pulled the trigger on the highest priced young horse they’ve ever purchased, with some financial help from Tiz the Law’s success.
This is the present: Tiz the Law will also exert the primary influence on when the trigger gets pulled on his next start.
The Belmont Stakes and Travers winner, coming off a second-place finish to Authentic in the Kentucky Derby two weekends ago, will have his first serious breeze since then, at Belmont Park Tuesday or Wednesday, at which point trainer Barclay Tagg and Sackatoga likely will decide on whether to run in the Oct. 3 Preakness.
Debate continues on why Tiz the Law, unbeaten in 2020 before the Derby and until then the clear leader in the 3-year-old male division, lost at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in September, and the debate also continues on what the best path moving forward should be.
Saratoga Springs-based Sackatoga managing partner Jack Knowlton said on Saturday that the colt will settle that debate by how he breezes this coming week.
“He’s going to telll us,” Knowlton said. “Right now, I’m guessing Tuesday or Wednesday, based on discussions with Barclay and [assistant trainer] Robin [Smullen]. They want to make sure he has some good days galloping to get back to normal. The last couple days, yeah, he’s done that.”
The two remaining races targeted by the Tiz the Law camp are the Preakness, which Tagg and Sackatoga won with Funny Cide in 2003, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, on Nov. 7.
He could run in one or the other, or both.
Authentic and most of the rest of the good 3-year-olds, including even the filly Swiss Skydiver, are being considered for the Preakness. An Eclipse Award for Tiz the Law remains an important goal, and the best way to achieve that will be considered when making the Preakness decision.
For the time being, Tiz the Law, who won the June 20 Belmont and Aug. 8 Travers in dominating fashion, and Authentic, who won the Grade I Haskell at Monmouth Park on July 18, are the only two in the running for the championship. Two huge races loom on the calendar.
Tagg has said that he prefers to skip the Preakness, since Tiz the Law has run three big races since late June and could use a little bit of a break to be at his best.
“I’ve said it publicly, if everything is perfect, I’d like to go to the Preakness, but we don’t know that yet,” Knowlton said. “And I’m not going to be the guy to push it one way or the other until we see a work. He tells us when he’s ready.
“The Preakness is a classic race, and we won it with Funny Cide. If everything is perfect, I’d love to be there. But we don’t have to be there. We have a great Plan B. The big prize is the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”
Tiz the Law’s two races at Churchill Downs are also the only two losses of his career.
He lost on a muddy track there last year in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on Nov. 30. That’s one element in the debate about the Derby loss.
“He came out of it a little worse for the wear, but his legs and feet are great,” Knowlton said. “For whatever reason, that track and he don’t agree with each other.”
In the meantime, Sackatoga bought a son of Tiznow for $300,000 on Sept. 9 at the Fasig-Tipton auction, where the selected yearlings and New York-bred yearlings who would’ve been offered in Saratoga in August were on sale. Fasig-Tipton canceled its traditional Saratoga sale because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sackatoga bought Tiz the Law at the 2018 Saratoga New York-bred sale for $110,000. His dam, Tizfiz, was sired by Tiznow, the 2000 Horse of the Yar who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice.
“We liked him, and there were only a couple that we really liked, based on conformation, pedigree and the vet report,” Knowlton said of the $300,000 son of Tiznow purchased last week.
“We’ll see. We were looking for a nice horse, and we feel like we got one. He’s a good-looking individual, and he passed all of Barclay’s tests, and we’ll look for him to be running in the New York stakes. It’s a situation where, fortunately with the success of Tiz the Law, our people are willing to spend a little more than we typically would.”
Sackatoga spent more on this yearling than any other it has brought to the stable.
While Tiz the Law has been cooling his heels with some easy gallops at Belmont leading up to his breeze this week, Authentic and those confirmed for the Preakness were busy with breezes on Saturday.
With Martin Garcia in the irons, the Derby winner went five furlongs in 59.20, the fastest of 38 works at Churchill at that distance on Saturday.
Churchill clockers timed Authentic in splits of 23.80 for a quarter-mile and 35.40 for three-eighths, then hitting six furlongs past the wire in 1:12.20 on the gallop-out, and seven-eighths in 1:25.20.
“He [Garcia] knows what I expect,” trainer Bob Baffert told the Churchill Downs media office. “I told him we’re going to go three-quarters from the five [five-eighths pole], and he just went off, didn’t have to move on him.
“This horse, he gets over any track. He couldn’t have looked better, coming off a race like that. Everything is all systems go for the Preakness. Got a nice work out of him. I’ll come back, give him an easier work next week and he should be ready to go.”
Baffert said he also expects to send Thousand Words to the Preakness. Thousand Words flipped in the Churchill paddock during saddling for the Derby and was scratched. He suffered no injuries, although assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes broke his arm trying to control Thousand Words.
Authentic and Thousand Words are scheduled to be aboard a Tex Sutton flight from Louisville to Baltimore on Tuesday, Sept. 29.
With Florent Geroux aboard, Thousand Words worked seven furlongs in 1:27.80.
“He’s not a real good work horse,” Baffert said. “I usually have him in company, and today I had him by himself. He’s just a steady kind of horse. Distance is his friend. Flo got to know him today, and I think he’s going to work him back this week.
“Now he knows the horse a little bit better. But it was fine. I like the way he actually finished up. He started picking it up the last part. I worked him seven-eighths today. That’s him. He’ll never wow you in the mornings. Just steady. He’s funny in that if you try to rush him early, he gets discouraged.”
Blue Grass winner Art Collector, who would’ve been the co-second choice in the Derby but missed it with a minor foot issue, breezed five furlongs at Churchill in 59.40, just a tick off Authentic’s fast work.
“I thought it was good,” trainer Tommy Drury said. “We wanted to make sure we did enough today. It was what we were looking for. We went a little longer between races than we’d hoped to be.
“Leading up to the race from here, now you’re just kind of back on a maintenance program. You know you’ve got him where you want him, and hopefully we’ll be on the flight the Tuesday before the Preakness and we’ll take our best shot.”
Mystic Guide, who won the Jim Dandy at Saratoga, worked four furlongs in 48.60 at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.
“He came out of his last race in good order,” trainer Michael Stidham said. “He’s galloped up until today. “He’s been training very well, and this morning’s half-mile work went just as we planned. We have the Preakness as a consideration. We’re not 100 % committed at this time, but we are looking at it. He’ll have another work next weekend in preparation if we do run in the Preakness.”
HONOR A. P. RETIRED
One of the most prominent players in the 3-year-old division, Honor A. P., is out of the picture, after he was retired with a tendon injury to his left front leg suffered in the Derby.
The injury is minor, but would take too much time to recover from to be able to race this year.
Honor A. P. beat Authentic by 2 3/4 lengths in the Santa Anita Derby, but had a troubled start to the Kentucky Derby and finished fourth. He’ll be sent to stud at Lane’s End in Kentucky.
The 7-year-old mare Starship Jubilee continued her remarkable season by beating males in the Grade I Woodbine Mile.
The 2019 Canadian Horse of the Year was coming off a fourth in the Diana and a victory in the Ballston Spa at Saratoga.
War of Will, the 2019 Preakness winner who has been running a turf campaign in 2020, was third, coming off his win in the Grade I Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland.