The enduring talent of Tiz The Law can be counted on in these uncertain times and he proved ultra-consistent when trouncing his rivals in the Runhappy Travers Stakes 2020 at Saratoga on Saturday.
He did so in the style of a red-hot favorite and would not have raised the heartbeat of bettors who supported him heavily at odds of 1/2 with the foremost American racebooks.
His jockey Manny Franco waved his whip in the air to celebrate approaching the wire. There was no longer any need to employ it for its conventional purpose as he was more than five lengths clear of his closest pursuers. Franco was pretty sure he had the pack beat and was confident enough to take a good look behind him to check. Meanwhile Tiz The Law pricked his ears and seemed very pleased with himself too, it was one of those special moments that enthuses non-afficionados about horse racing.
His trainer Barclay Tagg had never won the Travers and was delighted to claim the prize with this New York-bred son of Constitution owned by Sackatoga Stables, he posted a time of 2.0.95. The 11/1 shot Gustavo Delgado’s Caracaro kept on well in the stretch under Javier Castellano to take second, two lengths ahead of the similarly priced Max Player and Joel Rosario. Bill Mott’s South Bend (32/1) finished fourth ahead of Chad Brown’s County Grammer (12/1).
The only horse expected to be capable of challenging Tiz The Law in the Travers was Bob Baffert’s impressive Los Alamitos Derby winner and 3/1 second favorite Uncle Chuck. It was easy to see why this stunning dark brown son of Uncle Mo cost $250,000 as a yearling, he had size and swagger, towering over the more conventionally proportioned and less eye-catching Tiz The Law. He cost a mere $110,000 at the same age.
Uncle Chuck took the lead soon after the gates opened from stall two under Luis Saez. Tiz The Law shadowed him throughout, raising hopes for an exciting race but when he took the lead a quarter of a mile from home nothing was able to go with him. Franco was effusive when describing his change of gear when asked for an effort. Caracaro kept plodding on gamely but Uncle Chuck faded tamely in the stretch. His previous win was over a slightly shorter distance but something may have been amiss for him to fold so dramatically.
Many three-year-olds are plagued with physical issues which prevent them from fulfilling their promise but Tiz The Law seems to have bucked the trend under the masterful care of Tagg in this extended season. Keeping a colt fit to run, enthusiastic and healthy over such a long season is not easy. He was last seen asserting his authority over his nine rivals in the Belmont Stakes by almost four lengths on June 20 at Belmont Park. He barely broke a sweat winning in the style of a 4/5 favorite in a time of 1.46.53.
It was an unusual Belmont, never before has the race been the first leg of the Triple Crown. The schedule-shattering effect of coronavirus has led to countless unprecedented changes. Delayed by two weeks due to the pandemic, the race was shortened from a mile and a half to a mile and an eighth. It was the first time that it had been won by a horse foaled in New York for 138 years. It was tragic that such an epic moment was not witnessed by the crowd who would have appreciated it most as a result of the restrictions required to combat Covid-19. A lot of New Yorkers probably shouted at their television sets instead.
Unbeaten at the highest level this year, Tiz The Law also has a Florida Derby win to his name. Prior to the race he had the opposition comprehensively covered on paper and it played out that way on the track, winning by over four lengths. The concern was a fairly wide draw but his superiority, if physically fit, combined with his continued enthusiasm for the task on the day was confirmed. It was another easy victory, helping to build his confidence as a colt who could get the job done without busting a gut in the process.
Tiz The Law’s cause was helped by some high-profile absentees on that day. Baffert’s unbeaten top classic colts and Arkansas Derby winners (it was split into two divisions) Nadal and Charlatan were among them. Charlatan had failed a drug test after his victory, testing positive for Lidocaine which numbs pain and could possibly make a lame horse appear sound. He was disqualified and it subsequently became apparent that he had a problem and would be off the work tab for some time.
Sadly Nadal sustained a racetrack career-ending leg injury at home soon after his win and is set for a new career in the breeding shed. Baffert is having a nightmare season with his classic colts.
Other potential Florida Derby runners were diverted elsewhere in the hope of gaining enough qualifying points to contest the Kentucky Derby. Team Valor’s Gouverneur Morris was one of them. Barry Irwin, the Team Valor boss, was candid about the reason for his colt’s redirection to the Bluegrass Stakes. Gouverneur Morris was never going to beat Tiz The Law and could gain more points winning a lesser race than finishing a place or two behind him. He has not been seen on a racetrack since crossing the wire in third in the Arkansas Derby in May and has presumably encountered a setback.
Tiz The Law is set for the Run for the Roses next and deserves his place at the head of the Kentucky Derby betting by a considerable distance. Much of his potential opposition has crumbled already and, if Tagg can keep him healthy and happy he looks to be clear of his rivals by a massive distance.