Tiz The Law Kentucky Derby Favorite After Florida Derby Demolition

Barclay TaggTiz The Law sped to the top of the Kentucky Derby betting market after landing the 2020 Curlin Florida Derby on March 28.

He proved a worthy favorite at Gulfstream Park for his trainer Barclay Tagg. Sent off at 7/5 under Manuel Franco, he beat the long shot Shivaree by four and a quarter lengths, powering clear in the stretch. It was the first time Tiz The Law had tried the mile and a furlong distance and he had absolutely no issues with the extra 110 yards. Franco had more of an issue trying to pull him up.

Owned by the enthusiastic Sackatoga partners and bred by Twin Creeks Farm, this son of Constitution emulated his sire who triumphed in the 2014 Florida Derby for Todd Pletcher by the less spectacular margin of a neck. Unfortunately Tiz The Law was denied his usual warm welcome in the winner’s enclosure. Covid-19 restrictions made it necessary to run the race behind closed doors. His 32 owners had to cheer him home from other locations.

Out of a Tiznow mare and bought as a yearling for $110,000 by Jack Knowlton who heads the Sackatoga gang, Tiz The Law looked an exceptionally good purchase before this win. He triumphed by four lengths in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes as a juvenile at Belmont Park and was last seen cruising home at this track on February 1 in the Holy Bull, beating Ete Indien by three lengths. Tiz The Law has made a habit of winning by at least that distance, his only defeat was on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on November 30. He was beaten less than a length into third and has not encountered those conditions again.

Finishing ahead of an 80/1 shot in the Florida Derby does not sound like much of an achievement but the other placings were pretty much as the betting predicted. Ete Indien was the horse who attracted money on the day, starting 5/2 second favorite after being available at much more generous odds. He could only finish third under Florent Geroux for Patrick Biancone, five lengths behind the winner. Todd Pletcher’s impressive strike rate in this race led many bettors to consider his favored trainee, Gouverneur Morris who took fourth at 5/1 for Team Valor, a quarter of a length behind him. Independence Hall also attracted support at 3/1 but finished fifth, beaten ten and a half lengths.

What happened in the race?

As Seen On Tv was ridden hard by Paco Lopez as soon as the gates opened to maximize his inside draw but Shivaree outpaced him under Emisael Jaramillo and grabbed the lead and the rail going into the first bend. Et Indien was ridden forward by the triple-seeking Geroux from stall eight to take second place on the outside of the leader leaving As Seen On Tv hugging the rail in third. Franco managed to get Tiz The Law into a prominent position racing in fourth, apparently happy to give away ground and race four wide.

Michael Trombetta’s Independence Hall was considered a possible contender starting at 3/1 but did not help his chances by breaking slowly under Joel Rosario and was forced to run wide on the bend. The 115/1 outsider of the field Rogue Element found himself running widest of all as the other runners bustled for positions in the third row of the pack.

Having negotiated the bend Shivaree maintained a narrow advantage over Ete Indien with the favorite and As Seen On Tv forming the second line of runners. The gray roan Gouverneur Morris was mid pack with Independence Hall as Rogue Element trailed the field.

The placings in running were maintained until Ete Indien was pushed forward half a mile from home to take a half-length lead over Shivaree. Tiz The Law comfortably tracked him under a motionless Franco to take a clear third ahead of Independence Hall. As Seen On Tv could not go with them and Gouverneur Morris soon passed him as he weakened.

As they rounded the final turn the race-caller thought it was a match-up between the market leaders as Tiz The Law took second at Ete Indien’s shoulder but Shivaree responded to pressure and gamely fought to keep up with them on the rail. His heroics yielded results. The favorites had to race wide of him when every yard counted and the trio rounded the bend with less than half a length between them.

Tiz The Law had a narrow advantage as they hit the stretch whilst Shivaree was level with Ete Indien. When Franco asked Tiz The Law to quicken a quarter of a mile out his colt responded magnificently, leaving his pursuers for dead. Shivaree showed real grit and stamina to outrun Ete Indien whilst Gouverneur Morris had his own battle further back and outstayed Independence Hall.

Having gained the lead Tiz The Law held his head to one side and veered off the straightest route to the wire but, recalibrated by Franco, hit it straight as a die with his head in a more conventional position. He looked pleased with himself afterwards and was probably looking around wondering where the spectators were rather than feeling uncomfortable.

Tiz The Law gained 100 qualifying points for his efforts and is now the 5/1 Kentucky Derby favorite ahead of Bob Baffert’s Charlatan. Currently scheduled for September 5, the progress of Covid-19 will ultimately determine the date challenging the skills of both Baffert and Tagg.