Tiz the Law came out of the Kentucky Derby perfectly fine, save for his aura of invincibility and his Triple Crown hopes. And, according to trainer Barclay Tagg, that aura may not renew at the Preakness Stakes.
Tagg is non-committal about his prize trainee’s future plans, but intimated he may skip the Preakness Stakes. That puts the Breeders’ Cup Classic on deck for the Derby runner-up.
“He’s come out of it well. He ate up his dinner last night,” Tagg told Churchill Downs Sunday. “He’ll go back to New York Tuesday. I don’t want to say too much about the Preakness. I just want to see how he is. He’ll go back to New York and we’ll evaluate him.”
Tagg told Horse Racing Nation that waiting for the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland would be “a lot better,” because it gives the colt a two-month breather. Running the 1 3/16-mile Preakness between two 1 ¼-mile races (the Travers and the Derby) and the 1 ¼-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic may be a race too far for even a colt who thrives on distance.
Given what Tiz the Law’s co-owner, Jack Knowlton, said afterward, this may be up for discussion. The managing partner of Sackatoga Stables said he wants another crack at Bob Baffert’s Authentic who clocked a career-best 105 Beyer Speed Figure in his 1 ¼-length victory over Tiz the Law.
Tiz the Law ‘Bounced’ From a 109 Travers Beyer to a 103
“Bob, he’s got the magic touch. He had this horse ready at the right time and he beat us today,” Knowlton said. “Hopefully, we’ll get some more shots at him and we’ll turn the table on him. As long as he comes out of it healthy and sound, let’s go to Baltimore. Let’s go to the Preakness.”
Make no mistake. It’s not like Tiz the Law ran a bad Derby. Going off at 7/10 as the most prohibitive Derby favorite in 31 years, Tiz the Law clocked a 103 Beyer Speed Figure. Jockey Manny Franco followed the playbook perfectly, putting Tiz the Law in his customary stalking position off the leaders entering the far turn.
He caught Authentic at the top of the stretch and stared him down. Unlike every other contender Tiz the Law took on this year, Authentic didn’t blink. He pushed past Tiz the Law and held off every surge en route to that victory. That snapped Tiz the Law’s four-race winning streak, his undefeated 2020, and any Triple Crown hopes for the Belmont Stakes winner.
“I thought I was going to be right there, third or fourth, and the trip was perfect. No excuse,” jockey Franco said afterward.
Tiz the Law Couldn’t Find the Right Derby Answer
“Tiz has been able to pass horses all year. Basically, (Franco) hasn’t had to ask him,” Knowlton said. “Manny was asking him today and he was trying. Today, he ran into one he couldn’t get by.”
Entering the starting gate on Saturday, Tiz the Law’s only loss in seven races came at Churchill Downs last year. That’s when he finished third in the Kentucky Jockey Club to Silver Prospector and Finnick The Fierce. This illustrates what Tagg said afterward, that last year’s loss wasn’t because of the sloppy track. It was because of the track. Tiz the Law just doesn’t like Churchill Downs.
Among the most heralded horses in the country running under the Twin Spires on Derby/Oaks weekend, neither did many of the favorites. The stakes-heavy slate was replete with upsets, from 8/1 Authentic beating Tiz the Law in the Derby to 17/1 Shedaresthedevil blowing past favorite Gamine and second-favorite Swiss Skydiver to win Friday’s Kentucky Oaks.
Derby Weekend a Downer for Favorites
The upsets didn’t stop with the weekend’s two marquee races. There was 8/1 Beau Recall beating 1/2 Newspaperofrecord in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile. Sitting on Go, who went at 24/1, captured the Grade 3 Iroquois for juveniles, taking 10 Derby qualifying points for the 2021 Derby. Digital Age (8/1) won the Grade 1 Turf Classic. And there was Bell’s the One (4/1) beating favorite Serengeti Empress across the line in the Grade 1 Derby City Classic.