Shifman: Is Tiz the Law the top thoroughbred?

Shifman: Is Tiz the Law the top thoroughbred?
Photo: Lauren King/Gulfstream Park

Tiz the Law was an impressive winner of the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. The victory guarantees the Sackatoga Stable runner a spot in the 2020 Kentucky Derby and made him a deserving top choice in this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll for 3-year-olds.

Tiz the Law received 35 of the 40 first-place votes and moved him from his No. 2 position last week behind Authentic. The other five No. 1 votes were spread among three Bob Baffert trainees -- Authentic, Nadal, and Charlatan.

After the 4 ¼ length victory, veteran trainer Barclay Tagg made it clear that he has a very talented colt in his barn.

“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.”

Is it also time to consider that Tiz the Law might be the best thoroughbred in training, and if the racing year ended right now, would he be a viable candidate for Horse of the Year?

Early in each racing year, I put my top ranked 3-year-old into the non-restricted Top Thoroughbred Poll, and this year Tiz the Law has been the horse. After the Florida Derby, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how highly I would rank Tiz the Law in that poll. Eventually, I settled on a No. 2 vote.

Tiz the Law has done nothing wrong in 2020, with two powerful graded stakes wins. Granted, they both came in races restricted to 3-year-olds, but right now going a classic distance, I’m not sure any of the horses in the top 10 could beat him.

My decision was to vote Tiz the Law in the #2 spot overall, out of respect for Midnight Bisou’s second in the Saudi Cup against the boys, and also in the top spot in the 3-year-old poll.

Horse Racing Nation Senior Writer Brian Zipse and Tom Law, the President of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, both gave Tiz the Law their vote as the top thoroughbred in the country. By total points received this week, the Florida Derby winner was ranked 12th.

"As racetracks continue to close, I looked at this last poll of March as a sort of end of the season poll, at least as far as the top spot was concerned,” explained Zipse. “Despite only running against 3-year-olds in his two starts, Tiz the Law would be my choice for Horse of the Year to this point. Hopefully racing will return to a normal schedule very soon."

So, what’s next for Tiz the Law?

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, uncertainty is the only thing that is certain, so it is impossible to know what lies ahead on the road to the new Kentucky Derby date of Sept. 5.

Jack Knowlton, the managing partner of Sackatoga Stable, talked about the success of Tiz the Law in light of what’s going on in the world right now.

“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 will come back in play. Maybe we can do a Travers-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.”

 Consensus Top 10

 Matt Shifman's Top 10

 1. Midnight Bisou (31)

 1. Midnight Bisou

 2. Mucho Gusto

 2. Tiz the Law

 3. Zulu Alpha

 3. Mucho Gusto

 4. Mr Freeze

 4. Mr Freeze

 5. Maximum Security (7)

 5. Mind Control

 5T. By My Standards

 6. By My Standards

 7. Serengeti Empress

 7. Zulu Alpha

 8. Combatant

 8. Starship Jubilee

 9. Code of Honor

 9. Tacitus

 10T. Starship Jubilee

 10. Code of Honor

Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Recently, Matt helped launch Derby Day Racing, a new 2-year-old racing partnership, that just purchased a promising Lookin At Lucky filly named Sooner Schooner.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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