To nobody’s surprise, Tiz the Law opened as your healthy 6/5 favorite for Saturday’s 152nd running of the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes. He’ll do so out of the eight post in the 10-horse field, drawn Wednesday afternoon at Belmont Park.

Tiz the Law-Belmont Post
Tiz the Law and Manny Franco can afford to relax right now. Tiz the Law is the 6/5 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s Triple Crown-opening Belmont Stakes. (Image: Ryan Thompson/Gulfstream Park)

And Tiz the Law will do so as the only Grade 1 winner in the Belmont Stakes, which opens the Triple Crown season for the first time in history. It does so at a dialed-back 1 1/8 miles, three furlongs shorter than its usual 1 ½ mile test. This turns the usually longest Triple Crown race into the shortest, takes horses over one turn instead of two, and puts less weight on post position.

“It could have been worse. I was hoping to get five to seven, something like that, so we’ll take eight,” Tiz the Law’s trainer, Barclay Tagg, told reporters at Belmont Park’s cafe.

Several connections to Belmont entrants, including Tagg, said they would prefer a longer race. But Belmont Park’s configurations preclude a 1 ¼-mile race that would put outside posts at a decided disadvantage coming into the first of Big Sandy’s two sweeping turns.

The second reason was more pragmatic. In the coronavirus era, with racetracks altering schedules and either postponing or canceling prep races, no Triple Crown contender raced at a prep longer than 1 3/16 miles.

Everything Starts With Tiz the Law

Regardless of length, Tiz the Law is the 1,200-pound Thoroughbred gorilla in the gate. He’s 4-for-5, with Grade 1 victories in the Florida Derby and Hopeful Stakes. The New York-bred owns the top Beyer Speed Figure of any horse in the field (a 100 at the Florida Derby) and likely will be odds-on come Saturday.

“I think if you beat him, you win,” said Tap It To Win trainer Mark Casse during a Tuesday National Thoroughbred Horse Association teleconference with reporters.

“He does everything you ask him to, he’s very happy and content,” Tagg told reporters. “He likes this track, so I’m glad to be back here.”

152nd Belmont Stakes

Morning Line (Jockey)

  1. Tap It To Win, 6/1 (John Velasquez)
  2. Sole Volante, 9/2 (Luca Panici)
  3. Max Player, 15/1 (Joel Rosario)
  4. Modernist, 15/1 (Junior Alvarado)
  5. Farmington Road, 15/1 (Javier Castellano)
  6. Fore Left, 30/1 (Jose Ortiz)
  7. Jungle Runner, 50/1 (Reylu Gutierrez)
  8. Tiz the Law, 6/5 (Manny Franco)
  9. Dr Post, 5/1 (Irad Ortiz Jr.)
  10. Pneumatic, 8/1 (Ricardo Santana Jr.)

Sole Volante, the 9/2 second favorite, drew the two post. His co-owner, 22-year-old Andie Biancone, said the gelding came out of his June 10 one-mile Gulfstream allowance “super fresh and happy.” Sole Volante’s closing style produced victories in that race and in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes back in January.

Tap It To Win Coming Back In Top Form

The other horse coming off a June race is Casse’s Tap It To Win, who sits at 6/1. The Tapit progeny, who destroyed a Belmont Park allowance field at 1 1/16 miles on June 4, starts from the rail. A victory here would give Casse his third straight Triple Crown victory. He won the Preakness with War of Will and the Belmont Stakes with Sir Winston.

“If the Belmont was a mile-and-a-half on Saturday, I would doubt we would be in it, so, no, (we’re) not really changing anything,” Casse said.

“If we get the same performance out of him again as we did two weeks ago, he may not win, but you’ll know he’s there.”