When Tiz the Law ran away from the field in the 2020 Belmont Stakes, he stamped himself as the top 3-year-old in the nation. In a year when the Triple Crown is far different from any other, fans immediately began to wonder whether the talented son of Constitution could complete a unique sweep of the Belmont, Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
Fair enough, as Tiz the Law has been terrific in three starts this year, easily accounting for the Holy Bull (G3) and the Florida Derby (G1), before rolling in the Belmont. The Triple Crown is never an easy feat, and it will not be again this year despite the shortened distance of the 2020 first leg and the spread out nature of the three races.
Still, it’s nice to dream, and Tiz the Law is worthy of all the accolades he is receiving. Things will certainly get more difficult, though.
There will be new challengers to his throne -- most notably, Honor A.P., who looks like a potential star developing in California for trainer John Shirreffs. Then you have the schedule mapped out for the Belmont hero. It is not easy.
Four more races are planned for Tiz the Law this year, and they are all big ones. Next will come the Travers on Aug. 8, followed by the resumption of his run for the Triple Crown in the Kentucky Derby in September and the Preakness in October before concluding with the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November.
One down, four to go for the leader of the division. It is a daunting schedule, to be sure, but if the Barclay Tagg trained, Manny Franco ridden, and Sackatoga Stable owned colt can somehow win all five, he will go down in history.
It’s a schedule worthy of a champion. In fact, it’s a series of races that have never been swept.
In the 36 years since the Breeders’ Cup was first run, American Pharoah has come the closest. The great son of Pioneerof the Nile swept the American classics, only to be dueled by the talented Frosted in the Mid-Summer Derby. Weakened by the battle, an in form Keen Ice ran by both of them late to win the Travers. American Pharoah added to his legend, though, by romping in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland to close out a sensational Golden Slam winning season.
New York’s Easy Goer gave the five races a good shot back in 1989. He easily won both the Belmont and Travers in New York, but the champion could never get by his California nemesis Sunday Silence in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Breeders’ Cup Classic. The sensational son of Alydar ended that one’s run for a Triple Crown in the Belmont, and ran second in the other three, but lost the rivalry three races to one.
Alysheba is another great champion and son of Alydar to run in all five races. He famously won the Kentucky Derby, despite being knocked to his knees by his rival Bet Twice. The son of Alydar added the Preakness two weeks later but could not win any of the last three, although he ran a great race while just missing to the older champion Ferdinand in the 1987 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Tabasco Cat is the only other horse to have run in all five while winning at least two of them. After finishing off the board in a sloppy edition of the Kentucky Derby, he won both the Preakness and the Belmont in 1994 for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The son of Storm Cat came back to finish third in the Travers and second in the Breeders’ Cup later that season
Chief’s Crown is a bit of an oddity. The champion juvenile of 1984 was sent off the favorite in all five big races the following year but could manage only one win, which came in an impressive Travers victory over Turkoman. Third in the Derby, he just missed in the Preakness before finishing third in the Belmont. Trained by Roger Laurin, the son of Danzig finished his career with a disappointing fourth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Besides American Pharoah, he is the only horse to be favored in all five races.
Other horses to run in all five but winning only the Travers include Will Take Charge and Medaglia d’Oro. The former is one of three on this list trained by Lukas and became a champion after failing to hit the board in each leg of the Triple Crown. His Travers victory, followed by wins in the Pennsylvania Derby and Clark Handicap, which sandwiched a narrow defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, were enough to secure an Eclipse Award in 2013.
Medaglia d’Oro, meanwhile, had little luck in the first two legs of the Triple Crown, but only got better for the late Bobby Frankel. He followed up a good second in the Belmont with wins in the Jim Dandy and Mid-Summer Derby at Saratoga before a runner-up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The son of El Prado became one of America’s top sires after his racing career was over.
Of all the horses to win only one while racing in all five, perhaps Victory Gallop was the best. A fast closing second in the Kentucky Derby was followed by a second place finish in the Preakness. He was finally able to get the measure of his rival in the Belmont, though, when he edged Real Quiet in a stirring edition of the Belmont. The Travers was a heartbreaking loss by a nose for the son of Cryptoclearance, and then the BC Classic of 1998 saw him finish fourth, but he was flying against older horses and lost by only one length. He became a champion the following year.
Louis Quatorze, Strike the Gold, and Editor’s Note were three more to run in all five with only a single win. The first two were trained by Nick Zito, while the latter was another D. Wayne Lukas performer. Louis Quatorze was probably the best of the group, despite running his worst career race in the 1996 Kentucky Derby. He came right back to win the Preakness over Skip Away before finishing fourth in the Belmont. In both the Travers and the Classic, he ran his heart out to finish second, with the latter coming in a three-horse battle to the wire with Alphabet Soup and Cigar.
Finally, you have Cryptoclearance, who won none of the five. The sire of Victory Gallop was a warrior, though, winning 12 of 44 lifetime races and better than $3.3 million. Unlucky to be born the same year as Alysheba and Bet Twice, he finished fourth in the Derby, third in the Preakness, and second in the Belmont. He came back to beat both of his Triple Crown rivals when he finished second behind Java Gold in the Travers before closing out a very busy sophomore season with a fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Clearly Tiz the Law has a formidable schedule set out for him. As you can see, it takes a pretty special horse to even run in all five, but it would take a one-in-a-million type of horse to win them all.