Now that the dust has settled after Tiz the Law’s impressive victory in the Belmont Stakes, the public is trying to figure out what his schedule is prior to the Kentucky Derby and who he could face in those prep races. Thankfully his schedule is easy to figure out, but the major contenders behind him is another story.
Tiz the Law stamped himself as the best three year old presently in training with a 3 ¾ length victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes. Owned by Sackatoga Stable and trained by Barclay Tagg, the same connections of 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide, the horse is starting to get the groundswell of popularity that the Gutsy Gelding Funny Cide got during the Triple Crown run. Since owners were not allowed at Belmont, Sackatoga Stables and their guests all gathered at Pennell’s in Saratoga to watch Tiz the Law run. So it is no surprise that Tiz The Law is on schedule to make one more start prior to the Derby, which will be the Grade 1 Travers on Aug. 8. The hometown owners are hoping they will be allowed to attend the races to watch Tiz run.
Now fans of Tiz the Law may need to hold their breath if a there is a hiccup along the way, because it was announced after the Belmont that Tiz the Law’s breeding rights were purchased by Ashford Stud and he will stand there when his racing career his done. Value of the deal is unknown, but whenever a deal like this takes place, despite the insistence of the breeding farm that they will not interfere with the horse’s racing career, more often than not if an injury to the high priced stallion prospect happens, the prospect is generally retired. So as long as Tiz stays healthy, no problem.
Tiz The Favorite
Fans were not worried as they made Tiz the Law 2-1 in Pool 5 of the Kentucky Derby Future Pool. There were 22 other individual entries and then a field entry covering the rest of the horses other than the 23 individual entries. Surprisingly, the field ended up the third choice at 8-1.
Second choice in the wagering was Honor A.P. The John Shirreffs trainee became a major Kentucky Derby contender with a 2 ¾ length victory in the Grade 1 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby. Shirreffs, best known as the trainer of Zenyatta, is no stranger to the Kentucky Derby stage, as he saddled Giacomo to victory in 2005 at 50-1 under Mike Smith. He also happens to ride Honor A.P.
Shirreffs is a patient trainer and has been known to race his horses without winning in order to get them to peak for a goal. For his next start, options include the Los Alamitos Derby on July 4 or the Shared Belief at Del Mar on Aug. 1.
In the Santa Anita Derby, the favorite in the race was the Bob Baffert-trained Authentic. The horse is the last standing horse of the Baffert big three he had pointing to the Derby. But Charlatan and Nadal have been knocked out of Derby contention due to injury. Authentic has a problem of not breaking sharp from the gate, which afflicted him again in the Santa Anita Derby. He is a May foal, so maturity could be an issue. But with the Kentucky Derby now scheduled for Labor Day, it gives Baffert time to correct the gate issue. Baffert has shown in the past to get late developing horses ready to peak in the fall so Authentic cannot be ignored. He will probably run next in the Grade 1 Haskell on July 18.
A horse that surprisingly received support in Pool 5 was Uncle Chuck. The son of Uncle Mo is trained by Baffert and made his career debut on June 12. He won by seven lengths, going a mile in 1:36.78. He will probably be fast tracked to stakes company Baffert, probably point him to a Derby prep worth 100 points to the winner, either the Grade 2 Blue Grass on July 11 or the Travers.
An international horse that has received a lot of support is Café Pharoah. Based in Japan, he has clinched the Road to the Derby series in Japan and is extended an invite to run in the Kentucky Derby. The son of American Pharoah has won his three career starts, including the Group 3 Unicorn Stakes at a mile on June 21. He won his career debut going nine furlongs in December. Churchill Downs awaits for the connections to accept the invite to the Derby or not. But fans are expecting him to show up for the Derby. Café Pharoah was made 14-1 in Pool 5.
An intriguing prospect for the Derby is Gamine. The Bob Baffert three year old filly won the Grade 1 Acorn on Belmont Stakes Day by 18 ¾ lengths, running the mile in 1:32.55. She is Derby nominated but has no Derby points. She would need to race against the boys and finish at least second in a 100 point race to possibly earn enough points to enter the race. With Authentic pointing to the Haskell, that would leave the Blue Grass and Travers as the only races that the winner can earn 100 points for the Derby. But Baffert has also said she could wait to the Preakness before facing the boys in a Grade 1 Stakes.