Jack Knowlton, the managing partner for Sackatoga Stable, offered perspective Sunday about Tiz the Law that applies these days to just about any top 3-year-old carrying 2020 Kentucky Derbydreams.
"He’s fit and we’re anxious to get a chance to run," Knowlton said, "because nobody knows when the next chance is going to be."
For Tiz the Law and upwards of nine others, the next opportunity on the schedule is Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Florida Derby, cut a quarter of a million due to Gulfstream Park's casino closure amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Of course, that's not the only effect the virus has had on the Derby trail. Saturday's UAE Derby (G2) was canceled; the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) is off the board; and track officials are still debating when to run the Santa Anita Derby (G1) scheduled for April 4.
Each of those events, along with last Saturday's Louisiana Derby (G2), were the intended final Kentucky Derby preps awarding qualifying points on a 100-40-20-10 scale. For Florida Derby horses, next options appear either the newly rescheduled Arkansas Derby (G1) on May 2 or waiting until the summer, hopefully to when the coronavirus crisis passes.
Given that scenario, all the big names are in for the Florida Derby led by Tiz the Law, a Grade 1 winner at age 2 who put forth one of the top early season efforts by a sophomore when returning to take the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream.
That day, Tiz the Law defeated Ete Indien, who rebounded in the Fountain of Youth (G2). Their rematch is the top story line for Saturday's 1 1/8-mile race, but the lead cast goes deeper.
Independence Hall was once considered the Derby favorite when opening his career 3-for-3. He got too close to a hot pace in Tampa Bay Downs' Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) but stuck around for a runner-up in his only career defeat.
Gouverneur Morris, also running last time at Tampa, was just a tick off the track record in allowance company. This pricey colt was a dazzling debut winner on closing day last year at Saratoga and immediately stretched out to earn a Grade 1 placing.
As Seen on Tv was a head bob away from defeating top Florida-bred Chance it in the Jan. 4 Mucho Macho Man; Ajaaweed's a deep closer with multiple graded placings; and Candy Tycoon, always well regarded by the Pletcher barn, is finally starting to come around with a runner-up in the Fountain of Youth last time.
Gulfstream is expected to continue operating through the end of its Championship Meet with only personnel essential for racing on site. A representative of the racing office also said Sunday the next condition book is on its way to continue after this weekend.
The Florida Derby draws Wednesday along with its stakes-packed undercard, with a full look at the prospective field below:
|Rank||Silks||Horse / Sire||Rating||Trainer / Jockey||Last Start||Status|
Lookin At Lucky
|S. Joseph, Jr.|
Awesome of Course