By Mike Farrell
Some folks are ready to hand the juvenile colt Eclipse Award to trainer Barclay Tagg and the Sackatoga crew even before Tiz the Law concludes his freshman season Saturday in the $300,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs.
The enthusiasm is completely understandable.
Tiz the Law has delivered the goods in both starts. The authoritative maiden win against New York breds at Saratoga was only a hint of things to come in the Champagne (G1) two months later.
Showing the poise of polished veteran, Tiz the Law overcame a stumble at the break and a traffic jam to score a decisive four-length victory once he found daylight.
After the long shot muddle in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the division championship is there for the taking. Another victory moves Tiz the Law to the head of the class.
The Kentucky JC Stakes is one of 12 races on the “Stars of Tomorrow” card devoted exclusively to 2-year-olds. And it is part of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” with the winner banking 10 points toward a return visit here on the first Saturday in May.
Of course, Tagg and the Sackatoga Stable are old hands at this Derby business having been down this road successfully with Funny Cide.
The Champagne win guaranteed Tiz the Law a spot in the BC Juvenile. As soon as the bay colt crossed the finish line at Belmont Park, Tagg ruled out a trip to California.
“We had the same situation with Funny Cide (in 2002),” Sackatoga Stables’ managing partner Jack Knowlton said. “Everyone said we had the nicest 2-year-old so send him out to Arlington to run (in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile). Barclay didn’t want to do it. His attitude is if you really want a nice 3-year-old you don’t do too much with them as a 2-year-old. The decision really was about us wanting to do everything we can to get to Churchill the first Saturday in May.”
And Tagg, not often swept up in superlatives, couldn’t be happier with what he sees every morning and in every race.
“He surprises us every day with what he has,” Tagg said. “It’s what we look for and hope for.”
The best hope of derailing the Tiz the Law express likely rests with South Bend. The colt is a perfect 3-for-3, and holds a home field advantage with two victories at Churchill, including the Street Sense Stakes last month.
Rain is forecast for the weekend in Louisville, an unknown variable for Tiz the Law and South Bend. Neither one has run on a wet track.
The off going might put Enforceable in play. He was second here in the slop in his debut in May.
The fillies are also spotlighted in the $300,000 Golden Rod (G2) with 10 points to the winner on the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks”.
Finite breaks from the rail as the likely favorite following a six-length victory last time out in the Rags to Riches Stakes here last month for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Mike Farrell has worked in thoroughbred and harness racing for much of his career in journalism. Mike is a turf writer, harness writer, and handicapper, covering and analyzing races at dozens of racetracks around the country. Based on the East Coast, Mike has covered the Triple Crown races and the Breeders’ Cup for a number of publications, including Daily Racing Form, as well as The Associated Press. He spends time at Gulfstream Park taking in the races, and also hits the harness racing circuit in the Northeast region. He’s been a fixture at The Hambletonian and the Haskell Invitational for longer than he’d like to remember.