Tiz The Law Solidifies Kentucky Derby Favoritism With Overpowering Victory In Runhappy Travers Stakes

If there were any doubts about Sackatoga Stable’s Tiz the Law’s ability to get a mile and a quarter, they were erased in the two minutes and 95 hundredths of a second it took for the 3-year-old New York-bred son of Constitution to travel that distance and demolish his rivals in the $1-million, Grade 1 Runhappy Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Under superb handling by Manny Franco, Tiz the Law sat in third behind pacesetter Uncle Chuck, moved to the front on the turn for home, opened up a commanding lead and then was wrapped up in the final sixteenth of a mile to win by 5 1/2 lengths.

Caracaro finished second, with Max Player third and South Bend fourth, Country Grammer fifth, Uncle Chuck sixth and Shivaree last in the field of seven 3-year-olds. First Line was scratched.

The 1-2 favorite, Tiz the Law paid $3 for the win, his sixth in seven career starts for trainer Barclay Tagg. He will head to Louisville, Ky., where he will be a heavy favorite for the G1 Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5. It was at Churchill Downs last Nov. 30 where Tiz the Law suffered his only career defeat when third, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on a sloppy track.

Tiz the Law’s five stakes wins came in the G1 Champagne in 2019 and this year won the G3 Holy Bull in Feb, the G1 Florida Derby in March, the G1 Belmont Stakes in June and now the Travers. The Belmont was shortened from its traditional mile and a half to just nine furlongs because of the rescheduling of the Triple Crown that will end with the Preakness Stakes from Pimliico on Oct. 3.

The Travers, nicknamed the Mid-Summer Derby, in addition to being one of the most prestigious races for 3-year-olds, this year offered Kentucky Derby qualifying points (100-40-20-10) to the first four finishers.

Updated Kentucky Derby leaderboard

Tiz the Law, out of the Tiznow mare, Tizfiz, was bred by Twin Creeks Farm and sold by Sequel New York for $110,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred sale at Saratoga in 2018.

Uncle Chuck, the undefeated Uncle Mo colt who trainer Bob Baffert compared to 2016 Travers winner Arrogate, broke smoothly and set the Travers fractions: :23.65 for the opening quarter mile, :48.36 for the half and 1:11.95 for six furlongs.

When they reached the quarter pole, the mile in 1:36.42, Luis Saez was asking Uncle Chuck for his best and not finding. Tiz the Law and Franco burst to the front at the top of the stretch, drifting in somewhat after one right handed-strike from Franco’s whip. Franco raised the whip again as if he were ready to give Tiz the Law more encouragement, then saw that no one was gaining on him and wrapped up on the colt the remainder of the stretch run.

Caracaro and Max Player closed well from far back but never challenged the winner.


Trainer Barclay Tagg:

“I thought Manny [Franco] rode him just right. Both Manny and I thought another horse would go with him, the [Bob] Baffert horse [Uncle Chuck]. 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.

“Juan [Barajas Saldana, the groom] has been with us for about 20 years. He’s a fabulous person. The day this colt walked into our barn, he just took over. He hasn’t left his side since. He makes sure he bunks right near him every night. Takes care of him all day, every day. He goes everywhere with him when he travels. He’s just a great guy and a very, very good horseman. Of course, Robin [Smullen] is my partner and assistant and she’s great at everything. She rides him in the morning. He was pretty tough to ride for awhile there, but she got him straightened out. She’s probably the most important person in this horse. It’s just a great team.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve always wanted to win the Travers. 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 you’re a mind, but I was very confident in the horse.”

On preparing for the Kentucky Derby: “I don’t think we’ll change a whole lot. We’ll give him 10 days of easiness and then get a few more breezes in him before we go out there. That’s about all we can do.”

Jack Knowlton, managing partner of Sackatoga Stable
“It’s just so exciting. To be in the race and to be 1-2, there’s a lot of pressure. We had well-wishers from everywhere. We saw a performance today that just blows me away. 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 [for the G1 Kentucky Derby.]

“It’s fabulous. We’re getting redemption 17 years later [Funny Cide, the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, ran third in the Belmont Stakes and did not run in the Travers]. 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.

“When we had Funny Cide and won the Derby, it was Funny Cide mania and everything in town was everything Funny Cide. There was a  Funny Cide store and everything. It’s taken a little time I think for Tiz to get to that point. I really believe after this race that he is going to be adopted, not only by Saratoga but also by New York, and hopefully the country. The mask we have with Tiz on it, we’ve been getting calls from California and all over the country; they want a Tiz the Law mask. This is the greatest springboard to move on to Kentucky and I think he’s proven today that he certainly is a mile and a quarter horse and Barclay has said that all along.

“I wish there were 50,000 plus people here to see this performance live. 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 number 2.”

Jockey Manny Franco
“I can’t explain how I feel right now. 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 Juan. They did a great job with this horse.

“It means a lot because it’s made me a better jockey with this opportunity. I’m grateful for that.

“I didn’t expect a race like that, but we’ll take it. 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.

“He became part of my family, this horse. He’s unbelievable and I’ve never been on a horse in my career like this one. I’m enjoying the moment.

“When I came up to him [Uncle Chuck] at the half-mile pole, going to the three-eighths, I was trying to wait more because I knew I got him. He [Luis Saez, aboard Uncle Chuck] was riding and trying to keep up, so I was a little bit worried about the horses behind me. I was trying to save more horse before I made my move.

“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.

“Now, I’m more confident than before the race [that he can go a mile and a quarter]. I know now he can go the distance, but he has to run the race.

“I’m looking forward to the next race. Hopefully the horse keeps sound. I’m in good hands. Barclay knows what he’s doing and he knows what we’ve got.

“I think this is a good thing to happen because of the time we’re passing right now. A New York-bred winning the Travers I think that will make New York happy.”

The post Tiz The Law Solidifies Kentucky Derby Favoritism With Overpowering Victory In Runhappy Travers Stakes appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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