Tiz the Law Rolls Home in Travers
Sunday, August 9, 2020
Photo by Skip Dickstein

Twin Creeks Farm's New York bred TIZ THE LAW toyed with his rivals in winning the Travers by 5 1/2 lengths.. Tiz the Law's victory made him just the third New York-bred to win the Travers and the first since Thunder Rumble in 1992 and the only NY-bred to win the Florida Derby in the history of racing

By Bob Ehalt

As Knowlton held a box with a trophy in reward for Tiz the Law's decisive victory in the $980,000 Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1) Aug. 8, the founder and operational manager of the group
that owns the son of Constitution had a smile that even a face mask could not hide.

"Absolutely, this was very special. (Tiz the Law) performed even better than we could have hoped," said the head of Sackatoga Stable who has long lamented missing the 2003 Travers in his hometown of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., with the stable's first classic winner, Funny Cide. "We were confident going into the race, but we saw what happened last week (when Midnight Bisou was beaten in the Personal Ensign, G1). You know this is the Graveyard of Favorites, but I was hoping they closed the gates on that last weekend.

Saratoga Race Course's ancient penchant for upsets stood about as much of a chance of stopping Tiz the Law as the six other 3-year-olds who lined up against trainer Barclay Tagg's Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) winner and 1-2 favorite in the Travers—which turned out to be none at all.

The New York-bred Tiz the Law toyed with his rivals in winning by 5 1/2 lengths over Caracaro under a savvy ride by jockey Manny Franco in the 1 1/4-mile Midsummer Derby at the Spa and removed any doubt over his status as a heavy favorite for the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), where he will resume his quest to become the sport's 14th Triple Crown champion.

"Hopefully, we'll continue on this roll and this is a great springboard to go to Kentucky. I think he's proven today that he's certainly a mile-and-a-quarter horse," Knowlton said. "Barclay said that all along. I think as most of you know, Barclay hoped that the Belmont Stakes would be a mile and a half instead of a mile and an eighth."

 "I've always wanted to win the Travers," said Tagg, who saddled his first winner in 1972 and expressed his gratitude to groom Juan Barajas Saldana and assistant trainer Robin Smullen for their work with Tiz the Law. "It's been in my head my whole life. I don't know why, but now it's happened and I couldn't be happier."

The only regret for Knowlton was that Saratoga was closed to fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and he could only attend the race with 11 other licensed owners from the 35-person Sackatoga group.

"I wish there was 50,000-plus here today to see this performance live," Knowlton said. "But we're fortunate that we were able to run these races and that (the New York Racing Association) made an accommodation for some of the owners to be here."

What most people had to watch on television was a performance that accounted for Tiz the Law's sixth win in seven starts and his third consecutive grade 1 win, a stretch dating to the Curlin Florida Derby (G1) in late March. Like his five previous victories, the bay colt with earnings of $2,015,300 was once again victorious by at least three lengths, and after extending his dominance to the 10-furlong distance of the Kentucky Derby, you can wonder whether other horsemen will finally get the message. Though the Travers was a Kentucky Derby points race, with 100-40-20-10 points going to the top four finishers, that may be a moot point after Saturday.

Are 19 rivals really going to face Tiz the Law, who sits atop the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 372 points, on the first Saturday in September at Churchill Downs?

"He gave me chills," said Franco, who rode in the Travers for only the second time and was ninth on the first occasion five years ago. "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. I'm looking forward to the next race."

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