Sackatoga Stable's Grade 1 Belmont Stakes-champ Tiz the Law was the first horse on the Saratoga Race Course main track Saturday morning, breezing five furlongs in 59.44 seconds in preparation for the Grade 1, $1 million Runhappy Travers slated for August 8.
"I wanted to go in a minute and he went in a minute. It was perfect," said trainer Barclay Tagg. "We couldn't have worked better. He came back good and he was breathing good. Everything was good. He's a gem to work with. He is doing perfectly as far as I'm concerned. I don't know what else we can do for him. I like this colt. Why wouldn't you? We've got a nice horse."
The "Mid-Summer Derby," to be contested at 1 1/4 miles for the country's most talented 3-year-olds, is one of three Grade 1s on the day, joining the $300,000 Ballerina presented by NYRA Bets for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up going seven furlongs in a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
The day will also see sophomore fillies compete in the prestigious Grade 1, $300,000 Longines Test at seven furlongs, with the card bolstered by the Grade 3, $200,000 Troy, a 5 ½-furlong turf sprint for older males, and the Grade 3, $150,000 Waya, a 1 ½-mile turf route for older fillies and mares.
Sent out at 5:30 a.m., Tiz the Law recorded splits of 23.4, 36 and out in 1:13.2 over a fast main track with exercise rider Heather Smullen aboard.
"He's a little more relaxed in the morning," said Smullen. "He's nice and professional and does his job. There is always adversity. If he sees someone, he will get strong. He will get aggressive. He's a racehorse. Luckily, there was no one out there today. He went out there today and did what I told him to do. He was strong and consistent. It sure seems like it [that he's ready for the Travers]. He's done everything they have asked him to do."
A three-time Grade 1 winner, the son of second-crop sire Constitution followed up his August 2019 debut win at the Spa with a four-length score in the Grade 1 Champagne in October at Belmont. He completed his juvenile campaign with a close third in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club, contested on a sloppy strip at Churchill Downs.
Tiz the Law launched his sophomore season at Gulfstream Park with a three-length romp in the Grade 3 Holy Bull in February. He then dominated the nine-furlong Grade 1 Florida Derby by 4 ¼ lengths on March 28.
Last out, Tiz the Law captured the first leg of the revised Triple Crown when 3 ¾-lengths the best in the nine-furlong Grade 1 Belmont Stakes.
Tagg and Sackatoga Stable traveled the Triple Crown road in 2003 with another New York-bred in Funny Cide. The Distorted Humor chestnut prevailed by 1 ¾-lengths in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby under Hall of Famer Jose Santos. He followed up with a 9 ¾-length score in the Grade 1 Preakness, but finished third in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes after setting the early pace in his Triple Crown bid.
Sackatoga Stable's operations manager Jack Knowlton said he was pleased with his colt's final preparations.
"Fortunately, he's an easy horse to deal with. He gallops out the way you want him to gallop out. Everything looks as good as it can be," said Knowlton. "I want to enjoy the next week because it is going to be a lot of fun. We will get to do a lot of things and we will enjoy the moment at Saratoga. Hopefully, everything will work out. We've got four weeks to hopefully win another [Kentucky] Derby.
"It's exciting [to be here for the Travers]. My second biggest disappointment with the whole Funny Cide run was not being able to even run in the Travers," added Knowlton. "When he got sick, that was a bigger disappointment after not winning the Triple Crown. Now, we've got a second chance. It's not often you get second chances the way we have with this horse and to do things that we couldn't do. We checked one box by winning the Belmont. It would be wonderful to check this box to win the Travers. I have a lot of confidence that he's going to get the mile and a quarter."
Bred in New York by Twin Creeks Farm, Tiz the Law is out of the graded stakes-winning Tiznow broodmare Tizfiz. He has accumulated earnings of $1,480,300.
Tiz the Law, who leads all contenders with 272 Derby qualifying points, will contest a unique Triple Crown scenario that will continue with the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, rescheduled from Saturday, May 2 to Saturday, September 5, as the second leg of the Classic series. The Grade 1 Preakness, originally slated for May 16, will close out the Triple Crown on October 3 at Pimlico Race Course.
Runhappy Travers contenders Country Grammer and Shivaree breezed at 8:45 a.m. after the break on the Saratoga main track, while possible entrant Mystic Guide breezed at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Maryland.
Paul Pompa, Jr.'s Country Grammer, last out winner of the Grade 3 Peter Pan for trainer Chad Brown, worked a half-mile in company Saturday morning on the main track in 47.66. The Tonalist bay was clocked the opening quarter-mile in 24 flat.
A maiden winner at second asking when travelling nine furlongs in November at the Big A, Country Grammer was fifth in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth in his seasonal debut in February at Gulfstream. Following a closing third in a one-turn, 1 1/16-mile allowance event on June 4 at Belmont, Country Grammer made his return to two turns a winning one in the 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan on Opening Day July 16 at Saratoga.
The experienced Shivaree, trained by Ralph Nicks for Jacks or Better Farm, was clocked five furlongs in 1:03.27 after the break on the Saratoga main.
"It looked like he went well. He's a tough horse and he handles everything fine," said Nicks. "He handled shipping up there fine. He seems to be in good form. It was a nice maintenance breeze on the bridle, just kind of cruising around there this morning so all is well. We decided last week to take a shot, and everything's good."
The Awesome of Course colt, a Florida homebred, boasts a record of 12-3-3-2 with purse earnings of $345,505. He captured the Buffalo Man and Limehouse at Gulfstream to kick off his 3-year-old campaign and was the runner-up in both the Grade 3 Swale and Grade 1 Florida Derby at the Hallandale Beach oval. Last out, Shivaree failed to fire when 11th in the Grade 2 Blue Grass on July 11 at Keeneland.
Junior Alvarado will have the call in the Runhappy Travers.
Godolphin homebred Mystic Guide, a late-running third in the Grade 3 Peter Pan for trainer Mike Stidham, added blinkers for his five-eighths work in 1:01 flat Saturday at Fair Hill.
"We felt like he was a little more handy with the blinkers on," said Stidham. "He broke off three lengths behind another horse. We told the rider to stay even with the other horse down to the wire and he galloped out well. He went out in 13 and change. I was very happy with the addition of blinkers."
Stidham said he will consider both the Runhappy Travers and the Grade 2, $150,000 Jim Dandy at nine furlongs on September 5 for Mystic Guide.
"We're considering the Travers and we're also considering maybe waiting and running in the Jim Dandy," said Stidham. "We haven't decided yet but this definitely was a work we were going to use to see if the blinkers helped, which they seemed to, and then decide how aggressive we want to be. Obviously, going into the Travers would be a bit of an aggressive move."
By Ghostzapper, the Kentucky homebred colt is out of five-time Grade 1-winner Music Note. Mystic Guide made his first two starts at Fair Grounds including a debut third in a six-furlong sprint in February ahead of a five-length maiden score when travelling 1 1/16-miles on March 21 that earned an 84 Beyer.
Mystic Guide rallied to finish second behind Tap It to Win in a June 4 allowance around one-turn with eventual Peter Pan victor and likely Runhappy Travers rival Country Grammer 1 1/2-lengths back in third.
With Jose Ortiz aboard for the first time in the Peter Pan, Mystic Guide settled in eighth position in the nine-furlong event rallying wide to finish third, 3 1/2-lengths back of the victorious Country Grammer, who was a neck better than Caracaro.
|Rank||Silks||Horse / Sire||Rating||Trainer / Jockey||Last Start||Status|
Awesome of Course