Until the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, Tiz the Law had raced a step below superstar status. Although he captured races such as the Holy Bull Stakes (G2), Florida Derby (G1) and Belmont Stakes earlier in the year, he needed to work at least a little bit in those wins and failed to instill a sense of invincibility in the public.
But after his breathtaking victory Saturday, Tiz the Law crossed over into 3-year-old sensation status. Because of the ease and margin of his Travers win, the son of Constitution became that unbeatable force heading into the Kentucky Derby.
As expected, Tiz the Law broke well and took his preferred outside position.
The Bob Baffert-trained Uncle Chuck and Shivaree came out of the gate fine, but Uncle Chuck outfooted him to the front and Shivaree took up the pressing role.
Uncle Chuck led through the opening quarter in 23.65 and half-mile in 48.36, which are mild fractions at this level of racing.
Country Grammer saved ground and followed the trio in fourth, with Caracaro completing the leading group fifth. A large gap separated him and Max Player in sixth. Even farther back, the late closer South Bend trailed the field in seventh.
Approaching the far turn, Uncle Chuck already put away Shivaree. However, Tiz the Law moved forward on his own power and now raced alongside Uncle Chuck. Suddenly Uncle Chuck was in deep waters as Luis Saez rode him hard to no avail, and Tiz the Law took control under a confident ride from jockey Manny Franco.
Caracaro began to wind up on the outside in third, while Country Grammer kept his inside position in fourth. Max Player and South Bend both made up ground as well.
At the top of the stretch, Franco asked Tiz the Law for more. After taking a second to get into motion, Tiz the Law responded with his most powerful burst yet. Franco thought about hitting him again in midstretch, but he visibly looked over his shoulder and knew they won. He waved the whip one more time and put it down.
Caracaro rallied into second, while Max Player picked off tired horses for third. On his wrong lead, Uncle Chuck faded into sixth, 11 lengths behind Tiz the Law.
What happened to Uncle Chuck? Either his Los Alamitos figures were too high or he failed to handle the 1 1/4-mile distance. As stated before, this is a half-brother of the precocious Maclean’s Music and Kentuckian, who faded in his route attempt in the 2015 Los Alamitos Derby (G2). This family is suited to sprints or one-turn miles.
Tiz the Law won by 5 1/2 lengths over Caracaro. From a visual standpoint, it felt like he was capable of a lot more. Numbers cannot measure that kind of impression.
For those who want speed figures, Tiz the Law earned a career-high 126 TimeformUS Speed Figure and 109 Beyer Speed Figure. Before the Travers, Tiz the Law seemed mild in terms of figures. But he now owns the advantage here too.
Odds and value aside, Tiz the Law is an exciting horse with good connections behind him in trainer Barclay Tagg and Sackatoga Stables. As shown in 2003, these people know how to win the Kentucky Derby. For handicappers and horsemen, it will prove a tough task to defeat a talented 3-year-old superstar such as this one.
Serengeti Empress overcomes adversity
The notable part about breaking slow is that Serengeti Empress needs the lead. Most of her bettors probably gave up and conceded the race at that point.
But watch Serengeti Empress rush up the rail.
She snatches the lead from Letruska and rips through opening fractions of 21.85 and 43.74 for a seven-furlong race.
On the turn, Serengeti Empress still fends off Letruska while also dealing with looming threats from Bellafina and Victim of Love on the rail. Come Dancing also came into the mix behind horses.
Yet, Serengeti Empress repelled them all. Bellafina gave one last push toward the wire, but Serengeti Empress met the challenge and proved best by a length.
Bellafina finished second by 1 1/2 lengths over Victim of Love in third, with Come Dancing in fourth.
Serengeti Empress earned a 127 on TimeformUS, matching her career-best figure. If she aims for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, she could prove tough to beat.
Gamine gives unbelievable performance
With the 3-year-old star Gamine, there is not a lot to say. She gave another astonishing performance in the Test Stakes (G1) against Venetian Harbor.
At the start, Gamine secured the lead while Venetian Harbor, under Joel Rosario, opted to press rather than push for an all-out speed duel.
Because Venetian Harbor did not push for a speed duel, Gamine led through a sluggish 22.70 opening quarter and 45.14 half-mile.
With the slow fractions, Mrs. Danvers briefly moved within range of the pair. But on the turn, she lost ground as Gamine and Venetian Harbor quickened and separated from the field once again.
At the top of the stretch, Gamine began to put away a hard-ridden Venetian Harbor. Under a mild handride, Gamine drew clear easily and won by seven lengths.
For the win, Gamine earned a 120 on TimeformUS, adjusted down from a 127 because of the slow pace. Venetian Harbor managed only a 113.
Notice the separation between first, second and third. After the seven lengths between Gamine and Venetian Harbor was another 6 1/2 lengths to Up in Smoke in third. Another seven lengths separated Up in Smoke and Perfect Alibi in fourth.
Gamine gave another improbable perfomance. On paper, it is hard to deny she is a quality filly.