Convention guides Tiz the Law down Kentucky Derby trail

October 08, 2019 10:17am

“Never in the world could I imagine,” Jack Knowlton says, “we would have a horse that has a chance to be in the Kentucky Derby.”

That was true in 2002 as gelding Funny Cide emerged as a New York-bred stakes winner, then won the 2003 Derby for Sackatoga Stable. And it remains such in 2019 with Tiz the Law, the Champagne Stakes (G1) winner who’s suddenly carrying dreams of a return trip to Churchill Downs in 2020.

Knowlton, operating manager of the ownership group, said the road to the first Saturday in May is expected to include an early stop under the Twin Spires with Tiz the Law’s next target the Nov. 30 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).

“Even though we didn’t do it with Funny Cide back in the day, conventional wisdom is you want a race, or at least a work over the Churchill track before you run,” Knowlton said.

That works as an alternative to the Barclay Tagg-trained son of Constitution remaining in New York for the Dec. 7 Remsen Stakes (G2).

“Barclay isn’t too keen on having him go a mile and an eighth as a 2-year-old,” Knowlton said.

That makes the Kentucky Jockey Club a “logical place” for Tiz the Law to get going around two turns. The 1 1/16-miler follows a debut win over state-breds going 6 1/2 furlongs before the 1-mile Champagne, which the colt took by four lengths.

Sackatoga Stable went to $110,000 for this colt, who’s out of a Tiznow mare, hence his name.

“That bid was probably the last one we were going to make,” Knowlton said, remembering Saratoga’s 2018 sale of New York-bred yearlings. “We settled on 100, and in the heat of the moment we went one more time.”

When it was time to bring Tiz the Law to the racetrack, he went to Tagg, who also trained Funny Cide, additionally a winner of the Preakness Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) during his 38-race career.

It’s a short drive from Knowlton’s home in Saratoga to the track. He remembers Tiz the Law similarly showing himself in early works.

“The way he galloped out, it was just powerful,” Knowlton said. “He wanted to go.”

Aside from the New York state lineage, Knowlton is drawing other similarities between Funny Cide and Tiz the Law.

“It’s a WinStar first crop sire,” he said. “We certainly helped things get started for Distorted Humor, and now we have the first Grade 1 winner for Constitution.”

After the Kentucky Jockey Club, Tiz the Law will be due some time to freshen up. Then the plan’s to get him going at age 3 in a race like Gulfstream Park’s Holy Bull (G2). Hey, that worked for Funny Cide, too.


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