Start spreading the news. For the first time since the 19th century, a New York-bred has won the Empire State’s biggest race.
Tiz the Law, running for the same New York connections that campaigned gutsy gelding Funny Cide through the 2003 Triple Crown series, scored one for the home team Saturday when winning the 2020 Belmont Stakes. The son of Constitution became the first Belmont winner born in New York since Forester way back in 1882.
THE NEW YORK HERO! ??June 20, 2020
Trained by Barclay Tagg and owned by Sackatoga Stable, Tiz the Law got the right trip under jockey Manny Franco. He broke sharply and rated nicely in third through the first half of the 1 1/8-mile race.
When it was time to go, Tiz the Law went. He moved up in the turn, easing past pace setter Tap It to Win and then cruising to a 3 3/4-length win.
Tiz the Law scored in a final time of 1:46.53. He returned $3.60 as the 4-5 favorite, with Dr Post and Max Player rounding out the trifecta.
"I was pretty confident when we got to the seven-eighths pole,” said Franco, who scored his first victory in an American Classic. “He was so kind – he relaxed for me. He was so comfortable. He was never keen. I think that was the key to the victory.”
Tiz the Law gave Tagg and Sackatoga their first Belmont Stakes scores. The team guided Funny Cide to wins in the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes but fell short over Big Sandy.
Seventeen years later, and running at nine furlongs, Tiz the Law got the job done.
“He means everything," Tagg said. "I’m just glad I lived long enough to get another horse like this. I wanted to have a Belmont victory before I gave it up or died or something.”
Tagg later said the plan is for Tiz the Law to make his next start in the $1 million Travers (G1) at Saratoga on Aug.8 followed by the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby.
Tiz the Law has carried great expectations since winning on debut last August at Saratoga, then scoring at Belmont two months in the Champagne (G1). He finished his 2-year-old year with a troubled third-place finish at Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) in November but came back with dominant form as a 3-year-old.
The colt took the Florida road to the Triple Crown. He was much the best in Gulfstream Park’s Holy Bull Stakes (G3) on Feb. 1, then stretched to nine furlongs March 28 to win the Florida Derby (G1) over the same course.
Tiz the Law’s team then wanted to run in New York, which saw its racing suspended for more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 1 1/8-mile Belmont was finally announced last month and scheduled for Saturday, and there was never a doubt the Sackatoga runner would be in the starting gates.
Saturday’s Belmont, like every other race since NYRA resumed racing June 3, took place before an empty grandstand. The Sackatoga team wasn’t allowed to attend, so its members staged a watch party at a restaurant in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
“We just buy New York-breds,” said Jack Knowlton, managing partner of Sackatoga Stable. “That’s our game. We don’t spend a lot of money. We’ve been with Barclay Tagg for 25 years and I keep telling people, ‘Barclay doesn’t get a lot of big horses and opportunities, but when he gets them, he knows what to do.
“Now he’s got his and Sackatoga’s got their Triple Crown. Two different horses, two different years, but not a lot of people can say that.”