Sackatoga Stable has its Kentucky Derby horse, again.
Now the Saratoga Springs-based ownership group just needs a Kentucky Derby.
Ridden by Manny Franco, Sackatoga's New York-bred Tiz the Law roared to a 4 1/4-length victory over long shot Shivaree to win the $750,000 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
That catapulted the Barclay Tagg-trained Tiz the Law to the top of the leaderboard for Kentucky Derby qualifying points, as the colt improved to 4-0-1 from five career starts with his third grade stakes win and second Grade I.
Sackatoga Stable and Tagg stormed into the national spotlight in 2003, when another New York-bred, Funny Cide, won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before having his Triple Crown bid stopped by Empire Maker in the Belmont Stakes.
The owners haven't had many stakes-caliber horses since then, but Tiz the Law puts them right back in position to chase another Derby. Trouble is, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Churchill Downs has rescheduled the Derby from May 2 to Sept. 5, so Sackatoga will have a long wait for another Run for the Roses, assuming horse racing is operational this summer and fall.
"He is something special," Knowlton, the Sackatoga managing partner, told the Gulfstream media office by phone (spectators were barred from the track because of the pandemic).
"It would be a lot of fun going to Kentucky in five weeks, but that’s not happening, obviously. Now we get to run some more races. Maybe the Wood [Memorial] will come back in play [in New York]. Maybe we can do a Travers-Derby double. Right now, it’s a blank slate. Nobody knows what’s going to happen where or when with all that’s going on in the country."
"I was very impressed, but I’ve been impressed with everything he’s done," Tagg said. "He just surprises me, everything he does he just kind of rises to the occasion and does it with aplomb.
"He’s still got to go out every day. He’s still got to be trained. He’s still got to be fed, so we’ll just keep taking care of him and try and keep him mostly fit and see what happens."
Tiz the Law avoided traffic on the backstretch a few paths off the rail while stalking front-runners Shivaree and Ete Indien, then made his move outside of them at the three-eighths pole.
He took command in the stretch, and after a few taps of the stick from Franco, the jockey let Tiz the Law gear it down in the last several strides to the wire, as Shivaree and Ete Indien held position.
"He was traveling so well," Franco said. "As soon as he got to the half-mile pole, he was taking me the whole way and I was pleased with the way he was going."
Gouverneur Morris, who broke his maiden first time out by nine lengths on closing day of the 2019 Saratoga Race Course meet, finished a neck behind Ete Indien in fourth.
Tiz the Law, who also broke his maiden in his career debut at Saratoga last year, was purchased by Knowlton for $110,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling auction in 2018. His Florida Derby win pushed his career earnings to $945,300.
On the Florida Derby undercard, Zulu Alpha, the top turf horse in North America based on current form, was upset by a neck at betting odds of 3-5 by Bemma's Boy in the Grade II Pan American.
The card also included an important points race for the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks, and Swiss Skydiver got away with a comfortable lead early and easily held off the late runners to win by 3 1/4 lengths at odds of 9-1.