By Richard Rosenblatt
So long Tiz the Law. You had a championship run to remember in a year to forget.
It’s unlikely this gallant colt will win an Eclipse Award as the top 3-year-old male (that will go to Authentic), but from February until the stretch run in the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5, there was no finer racehorse in the land.
On Wednesday (Dec. 30), Tiz the Law was retired after it was announced there was “severe bone bruising” to his left front leg.
“When that happens, you can’t continue to train and race a horse without a significant threat of a catastrophic breakdown,’’ read a statement from Sackatoga Stable, which owns Tiz the Law.
A son of Constitution, Tiz the Law won the Champagne Stakes (G1) as a 2-year-old, then won the Holy Bull (G3) on Feb. 1 and Florida Derby on March 28, the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 20 and the Travers (G1) on Aug. 8 before finishing second to Authentic in the Kentucky Derby (G1), and sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on Nov. 7.
Coolmore’s Ashford Stud had purchased the breeding rights in late June, and Tiz the Law will stand at stud for $40,000.
On a Triple Crown trail reconfigured due to the COVID-19 pandemic (and no fans allowed at racetracks), Tiz the Law gave the racing world so many positive vibes during such dark times. He was trained by just-turned 83-year-old Barclay Tagg and owned by general partner Jack Knowlton’s Sackatoga Stable – the same fun folks that brought us the popular Funny Cide (2003 Derby and Preakness winner).
Under rising star jockey Manny Franco, Tiz the Law cruised in the Florida Derby by 4 ¼ lengths. With the Triple Crown races shuffled, the Belmont – reduced to 1 1/8 miles from 1 1/2 miles – became the first leg of the series instead of the last.
Tiz the Law kicked away for a 3 1/2-length victory and became the first New York bred to win the race since 1882. A few months later, at the owners’ home track at Saratoga, Tiz the Law romped in the Travers by 5 ½ lengths.
That set the stage for the Derby, where a win would set up a most unusual Triple Crown try in the Preakness (G1) on Oct. 3. It was not to be as Authentic led gate-to-wire and beat 7-10 favorite Tiz the Law by 1 ¼ lengths.
With no Triple Crown on the line, Tiz the Law did not run in the Preakness, and when he returned in the BC Classic on Nov. 7. He drew an unfavorable (for him) inside post position, and by the time Franco got him to a more comfortable outside position, the colt did not produce the finishing kick we saw throughout much of 2020.
Tiz the Law, purchased for $110,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Preferred New York-Bred Yearling Sale, ends his racing career with a record six wins (four Grade 1s), a second and a third in nine starts for earnings of $2,735,300.
There had been plans to run the colt in 2021, starting with the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) in late January.
“We are saddened to say that Tiz the Law has been retired based on veterinary advice. We were very much looking forward to his 4yo campaign, but his long term health is paramount,’’ Sackatoga Stable posted on Twitter. “We are beyond grateful for the time we had with him.”
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.