Native Dancer: The Nearly Perfect Grey Ghost of Sagamore
For the first eight months of what began as an unbeaten 3-year-old campaign, Sackatoga Stable’s Tiz the Law came out of each start in remarkably good shape.
Starting with a win in the Feb. 1 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park, he progressed through ensuing Grade 1 victories in the Curlin Florida Derby, Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets, and Runhappy Travers Stakes fresh and fit.
But that all changed after the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs, where Tiz the Law ran second to Authentic. It was just his second loss in eight career starts — with both occurring at the Louisville track.
Each time, the son of Constitution came out of the defeat somewhat worse for the wear and this time, it will keep him from running in the Oct 3. Preakness Stakes.
Sackatoga Stable operating manager Jack Knowlton said Sept. 22 that after conferring with trainer Barclay Tagg and assistant trainer Robin Smullen, who also gallops the multiple Grade 1 winner, it was decided that Tiz the Law will pass up the Preakness and train up to the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 7 at Keeneland.
“You have to listen to your horse. We didn’t feel we would have him 100% ready for the Preakness, so we decided to train up to the Breeders’ Cup. Barclay and Robin felt he wasn’t ready to do his two breezes that we believed were necessary for the Preakness,” Knowlton said. “We couldn’t do it this past weekend and we were looking at [Sept. 23] but that didn’t work out. So we said we don’t have to go to the Preakness. We have a bigger prize at the end of the year at the Breeders’ Cup. We know he runs very well off long layoffs, so that’s the decision we made. It’s off to a new chapter and we have a $6 million race to look forward to, which is great for a small stable like ours.”
Tiz the Law has not worked since the Sept. 5 loss at Churchill Downs, where he finished third last year in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.
“Robin said the same thing happened after his other race at Churchill Downs. The two races at Churchill Downs are the two races he did not come out like a fresh horse for his next start,” Knowlton said. “After the Travers, he put in his two works with no issue whatsoever. For some reason, he didn’t agree with Churchill Downs.”
Knowlton said Tiz the Law will most likely begin his preparation for the 1 1/4-mile Classic with a workout this weekend at Belmont Park.
“He’ll work this weekend,” Knowlton said. “They say he’s back to normal today. He’s the ‘Tiz’ we know and love, but to go to the Preakness off one work would be asking too much. Would I like to go? Of course, but you have to be sensible.”
Knowlton added Tiz the Law would be shipped to Keeneland early so that he can put in a work on the main track before the Classic.
The timing between the Kentucky Derby and Classic will be nine weeks and the $2.6 million earner has thrived off long breaks in the past. Bred in New York by Twin Creeks Farm and purchased for $110,000 from the Sequel New York consignment at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Preferred New York-Bred Yearling Sale, Tiz the Law captured the Florida Derby off eight weeks of rest, the Belmont Stakes off 12 weeks, and the Runhappy Travers off seven weeks.
By skipping the Preakness, which is the final leg of this year’s juggled Triple Crown, it puts Authentic in a position to take a big lead in the race for the 3-year-old male championship. Both Authentic and Tiz the Law have won four of five starts in 2020, with Tiz the Law owning three Grade 1 wins and Authentic two. Authentic is currently No. 1 in the latest National Thoroughbred Association Top 3-year-old poll and if the Bob Baffert-trained runner wins the Preakness, it would give him a third Grade 1 win.
Should Authentic, who is very likely to be favored, win the Preakness, Knowlton said Tiz the Law would need to win the Classic against older rivals, which would make him Horse of the Year in his estimation, or finish a strong second to surpass Authentic in Eclipse Award voting.
“There’s no question Authentic would be in the lead [for the 3-year-old male Eclipse Award] if he wins the Preakness, but we would win it all if we win the Classic, and maybe we don’t have to win it,” Knowlton said. “What if we run second to Maximum Security or Tom’s d’Etat? What will people think about that given that both horses would have three Grade 1 wins and we would have seconds in the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic?”
Without Tiz the Law, Authentic will head a field for the 145th Preakness that will also include Mr. Big News, who was third in the Kentucky Derby, as well as Art Collector and Thousand Words, who were unable to run in the Kentucky Derby; Pneumatic, Jesus’ Team, and Liveyourbeastlife. Dr Post, Mystic Guide, and Happy Saver are possibilities to join the field for the $1 million stakes that will award a free “Win and You’re In” spot in the Classic to the victor.