Tiz the Law rolled to a 4 1/4-length victory in Saturday’s $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, confirming himself as a top Kentucky Derby contender. Manny Franco was up for owner Sackatoga Stable and trainer Barclay Tagg, and Tiz the Law completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:50 as the 7-5 favorite.
He settled just off the pace in third as Shivaree and Ete Indien contested the opening stages in :23.75 and :47.95, and began to edge closer rounding the far turn. Ete Indien led by a half-length through three-quarters in 1:11.94, but Tiz the Law was gaining steam. The winner powered three-wide to take over entering the stretch and quickly drew off.
“I was happy by the five-sixteenths pole,” Franco said. “When I called on him a little bit, he was there for me.”
The New York-bred colt from the first crop of Constitution has now won 4-of-5 starts, opening 2020 with a three-length triumph in the Feb. 1 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream, and Tiz the Law increased his earnings to $945,300. The Florida Derby was major qualifier for the Kentucky Derby, which has been rescheduled for Sept. 5, and awarded points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the top four finishers.
Tiz the Law received 10 points apiece for the Holy Bull and a four-length romp in the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park last fall, and also picked up 2 points finishing a close third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs in his 2-year-old finale. He’s clearly the leading 3-year-old based outside of California presently.
“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.”
Due to health and safety protocols that prohibited spectators and owners from attending Saturday’s races, Sackatoga’s Jack Knowlton watched the race from home.
“All we know is that we’ve got a horse that’s very special, and it’s pretty exciting for us,” Knowlton said. “Unfortunately none of us could be there today. We were all watching it on TV from coast to coast.”
Shivaree, who was dismissed at 80-1 following runner-up finishes in the Swale (G3) and Hutcheson S. at 7-furlongs, re-rallied up the inside for second. The chestnut colt had made his last five starts in sprints for Ralph Nicks. Ete Indien, the 29-10 second choice, held third by a neck over 5-1 Gouverneur Morris, who was in position turning for home but came up short.
It was another 5 1/4 lengths to Independence Hall, who was never a factor after rating off the pace as the 3-1 third choice. Candy Tycoon, My First Granny, As Seen On Tv and Rogue Element completed the order in the nine-horse field.
Bred by Twin Creeks Farm, Tiz the Law is out of the Grade 2-winning Tiznow mare Tizfiz, and counts the multiple stakes-placed Tapit filly Awestruck as a half-sister. Tizfiz is a full-sister to Grade 3 winner and Grade 1 runner-up Fury Kapcori.
Knowlton alluded to the uncharted territory horse racing is facing in the coming months.
“He is something special, it would be a lot of fun going to Kentucky in five weeks, but that’s not happening, obviously,” Knowlton said. “Now we get to run some more races. Maybe the Wood (Memorial [G2] in New York) will come back in play. Maybe we can do a Travers (G1)-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.”