In a difficult year, this was an easy one.
Tiz the Law was named New York-bred champion 3-Year-old Male and Horse of the Year by the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. (NYTB) on Monday, as the organization announced its 2020 New York Divisional Championship Awards during a virtual ceremony.
Trained by Barclay Tagg, Tiz the Law took the owners of Sackatoga Stable on a ride reminiscent of 2003, when Funny Cide won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. In Tiz the Law’s case, during a pandemic-disrupted racing calendar, he won three Grade I races in a row, the Florida Derby, Belmont Stakes and Travers at Saratoga Race Course.
His 2020 season ended with a second to Authentic in the Kentucky Derby and a sixth to Authentic in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, after which Authentic was named Horse of the Year at the Eclipse Awards
“It isn’t much of a surprise, is it? But we’re still thrilled he’s being recognized for what he achieved last year, a year like no other, which was pretty phenomenal,” Sackatoga managing partner Jack Knowlton said.
Tiz the Law also won a NYTB Award for top 2-Year-Old Male in 2019.
His Belmont and Travers wins — dominating performances in both cases — occurred in front of only a few hundred people, as spectators were barred from entry to New York tracks because of COVID-19 safety concerns. Tiz the Law was the first New York-bred to win the Belmont since 1882.
“Winning three Grade I races, including the Belmont and particularly the Travers, was more than a lifelong dream for me,” Knowlton said. “As they say, all good things must come to an end, so the Derby was a disappointment, but running second in the Kentucky Derby is no shame. And I think Authentic came back and proved a worthy Derby winner, the way he won the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”
Sackatoga, which stocks its stable with New York-bred horses exclusively, doesn’t typically get one of Tiz the Law’s caliber.
He was purchased in 2018 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Preferred Yearling Sale for $110,000.
From nine career starts, Tiz the Law, who was retired to stud this winter, earned $2,735,300 in purse money.
“Personally, I never thought Sackatoga Stable would be involved in another horse that you could talk about in the same sense as Funny Cide,” Knowlton said. “And credit to Barclay and [assistant trainer] Robin [Smullen] and our bloodstock agents recommending his purchase at the Saratoga Yearling Sale, to bring him along under the craziest of circumstances. There were a few weeks there where we didn’t know where we were going next, and Barclay had to keep him sharp not knowing when he’d have to go into a big race again.”
Based on Tiz the Law’s success, Tagg won the NYTB Award for top trainer; Manny Franco won the jockey award; Tiz the Law’s dam, Tizfiz, won the broodmare award; and Twin Creeks Farm was named top breeder.
Other 2020 NYTB Award winners who beat open company in graded stakes were Turf Male Somelikeithotbrown (Grade II Bernard Baruch at Saratoga); 2-Year-Old Male Brooklyn Strong (Grade II Remsen at Aqueduct); 2-Year-Old Female Simply Ravishing (Grade I Alcibiades at Keeneland); 3-Year-Old Filly Sharp Starr (Grade III Go for Wand at Aqueduct).
Top Older Dirt Male Mr. Buff won the Jazil at Aqueduct and Empire Classic at Belmont Park, but was fifth in three of the biggest graded stakes in New York, the Grade I Whitney at Saratoga, Grade II Suburban at Belmont and Grade I Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.
Besides Tiz the Law, Lead Guitar (Turf Female, Female Sprinter) was a dual award winner.
2020 NYTB Award winners
2-Year-Old Male: Brooklyn Strong
2-Year-Old Filly: Simply Ravishing
3-Year-Old Male: Tiz the Law
3-Year-Old Filly: Sharp Starr
Older Dirt Male: Mr. Buff
Older Dirt Female: Lucky Move
Turf Male: Somelikeithotbrown
Turf Female: Lead Guitar
Female Sprinter: Lead Guitar
Male Sprinter: Funny Guy
Breeder: Twin Creeks Farm
Trainer: Barclay Tagg
Jockey: Manny Franco
Lifetime Achievement: Ellen Bongard; Frank and Patricia Generazio
Special Ackowledgement: Jeffrey Cannizzo