According to Churchill Downs’ condition book, the May 23 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) will offer qualifying points toward the 2020 Kentucky Derby. So too will the June 6 Santa Anita Derby (G1) assuming racing is able to resume in California.
But the connections of leading Derby contender Tiz the Law are content to stay patient, then roll through New York en route to the first Saturday in September.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that the logjam is going to break here and that NYRA will try to have a path to the Derby we can participate in,” Jack Knowlton, head of the Sackatoga Stable partnership, said Monday.
A Constitution colt who won the Florida Derby (G1) most recently, Tiz the Law has continued to work at the Palm Meadows Training Center in south Florida, where on Saturday he breezed 5/8 of a mile in 1:01.45.
Knowlton said he’s hopeful for some news out of New York after Tiz the Law’s trainer, Barclay Tagg, was able to apply for stall space over the weekend.
“There’s some movement going on it looks like — thankfully,” Knowlton said. “Since the Florida Derby, it’s been a blank slate for us.”
Connections “didn’t have any reason” to go to the Arkansas Derby (G1), run Saturday in split divisions, given the Florida Derby awarded Tiz the Law 100 qualifying points and a spot in the gate at Churchill Downs.
“Our assumption all along is that New York will open and be without fans — that NYRA will have some kind of stakes schedule giving us a path to the Derby,” Knowlton said.
He’s hearing that, should Belmont Park be able to conduct racing, the Belmont Stakes may shift to late June.
“The speculation is it would not run at a mile and a half,” Knowlton said.
Then there’s the assumption that the Travers Stakes (G1) will move up to early August.
“We’d just have the Mid-Summer Derby before the real Derby,” Knowlton said.
It’s an unconventional order for three top races for sophomores — Belmont to Travers to the Kentucky Derby — but one Tiz the Law’s camp would be happy to win under any circumstances.
“Barclay and I have talked about what we would do,” said Knowlton, thinking Tiz the Law could go straight to Belmont if it’s added to the schedule. “He hasn’t had any problem training off a long layoff with this horse.”
Knowlton, however, did say it’s “maddening” that more information hasn’t been announced about a new date for the Preakness Stakes.
Other additions to the road to the Derby points schedule will be announced later by Churchill Downs. Top events for 3-year-olds also include the July 18 Haskell (G1) at Monmouth Park and the prospect of Keeneland running an abbreviated meet this summer that could include the Blue Grass Stakes (G2).
“There’s going to be a lot of racing in a pretty short period of time,” Knowlton said.
Tiz the Law, who’s 4-for-5 overall, also won the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) this season at Gulfstream Park. During his 2-year-old campaign, the colt went from debut Saratoga winner to Champagne Stakes (G1) hero.
The Feb. 1 Holy Bull victory came off a layoff dating back to November. Tiz the Law’s only defeat came when he had some green moments in Churchill’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2), finishing third.