Belmont Stakes and Travers winner Tiz the Law will skip the Oct. 3 Preakness and point toward the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland on Nov. 7.
He hasn’t quite come out of his second-place finish to Authentic in the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby to the satisfaction of trainer Barclay Tagg and his Saratoga Springs-based ownership group, Sackatoga Stables, so Tiz the Law gets a little bit of a break from his busy racing schedule and will train up to the Classic.
“It’s disappointing, because you don’t get a lot of chances, when you’re a place like Sackatoga, to run in big races,” Sackatoga managing partner Jack Knowlton said. “But you’ve got to listen to your horse and do what makes sense. The big prize out there is the Classic, and he’s shown us this year that, when he has lots of time between races, that’s when he runs his best.”
Tagg told the Daily Racing Form that since Tiz the Law has no shot at winning a Triple Crown, it makes more sense to concentrate on getting him fresh and ready for the Classic, in which he would square off against accomplished older horses like Maximum Security and Tom’s d’Etat.
Sackatoga won the Derby and Preakness in 2003 with another New York-bred, Funny Cide. He lost the Triple Crown by finishing third behind Empire Maker.
In a Triple Crown schedule reconfigured because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tiz the Law won the first leg, the Belmont, on June 20 by 3 3/4 lengths, then fell a length and a quarter short of Authentic in the Derby.
Sandwiched between those two efforts was a dominating performance in the Travers at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 8, by 5 1/2 while being dialed down by jockey Manny Franco in the final furlong.
In the Derby, Tiz the Law appeared to be poised to go past Authentic as they got into the stretch at Churchill Downs, but the Bob Baffert-trained Authentic found another gear and was able to hang on to win.
“I like to think the track had a lot to do with him not winning that race,” Knowlton said. “He didn’t bounce out of that race like he did from the other races. And [assistant trainer] Robin [Smullen] told me that the only other race that he didn’t really come out of it the way he did the Travers was the race we lost there in Kentucky last time.”
Both of Tiz the Law’s career losses have come at Churchill. He lost the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club to close out his 2-year-old season in November.
Tagg wanted to get two breezes into Tiz the Law between the Derby and Preakness, but the colt took a little more time than usual to get back into the swing of things, and is scheduled to breeze this weekend at Belmont Park, probably on Saturday.
If that’s the case, Tiz the Law will have had 20 days between his last race and his first breeze back. He had 14 days between the Travers and a breeze, and 10 days between the Belmont and his next published workout.
Tiz the Law’s gallop on Tuesday was the first indication after the Derby that he’s ready for a more aggressive work.
“I’ve been talking to Barclay since the Derby, how are we doing, and we’ve had constant discussions,” Knowlton said. “Yesterday [Monday], it kind of crystallized that the right decision for the horse and ultimately for his racing career is to back off and focus our efforts on getting him the best that he can be for the Classic.
“We think it’s the right decision, and I haven’t heard anybody yet — maybe some of my owners — on the outside saying they disagree.”
Besides Authentic, the Preakness field is shaping up to include Blue Grass winner Art Collector; the filly Swiss Skydiver, who won the Alabama at Saratoga before losing the Kentucky Oaks to Shedaresthedevil; Pneumatic; Mongolian Wind; Mr. Big News and two supplemental entries, Liveyourbeastlife and Jesus’ Team, who were second and third, respectively, in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will make a decision with Happy Saver and Dr Post after they breeze this weekend.
Knowlton said he’s confident Tiz the Law has a good shot to win the BC Classic, provided he can run the way he did in the Travers. The colt got a 109 Beyer speed figure in the Travers, tying him with Tom’s d’Etat’s number from the June 27 Stephen Foster for the highest in 2020 for horses 3 years old and up going longer than a mile on the main track.
“It’s the championship,” Knowlton said. “If he can duplicate his Travers, I think he can win.”
Volatile, the top sprinter in North America, was retired recently with a hairline fracture of his right front cannon bone.
He will stand at stud at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky.
Volatile’s last race was one of the highlights of the Saratoga meet, as he won the Grade I Alfred G. Vanderbilt.