Like everybody else in the racing industry, Jack Knowlton doesn't know what to expect in the days and weeks ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But the general manager of the Sackatoga Stable partnership, which campaigns top 3-year-old Tiz the Law, is pretty sure of one thing: Finishing first or second in Saturday's Florida Derby "would probably guarantee" a slot in the Kentucky Derby, now scheduled for Sept. 5.
"Third would make us nervous," Knowlton said Tuesday during a National Thoroughbred Racing Association teleconference.
Knowlton said Tiz the Law "went beyond expectations" in his impressive win in the Feb. 1 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park. His connections thought Tiz the Law would win, Knowlton said, but his trip -- which registered a 108 Brisnet Speed Rating -- "validated that he is one of the ones that should be in the starting gate, now, on the first Saturday of September."
Knowlton said "it was a very long eight weeks" between Nov. 30, when Tiz the Law finished a disappointing third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs, and the Holy Bull.
"We felt he was a very special horse, not only when he won the Champagne but when he broke his maiden at Saratoga."
Noting the sloppy track at Churchill, Knowlton said, "that was one where I think all of us drew a line through that race."
Sackatoga Stable also campaigned Funny Cide, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2003.
"Never in my life, once Funny Cide retired ... did I think Sackatoga would have another horse in the Derby."
Now they're a first or second -- and maybe a third in the Florida Derby -- away from going back.