TIZ THE LAW took the summer by storm when he won the Belmont Stakes in prime fashion back in June and then the Travers Stakes in August, only to be shut down by AUTHENTIC in the Derby. Trainer Barclay Tagg decided to skip the Preakness and focus on prepping his horse for the Classic.
Yesterday, however, presented the trainer with a bit of diversity. The post position that TIZ THE LAW received was not ideal. The colt ended up in the 2 post. It's not an ideal spot for a horse that needs to get to the lead quickly. From the two spot, it's easy to get stuck in traffic and lost in the pack.
We have to go all the way back to TIZ THE LAW's maiden race and early races to find him anywhere near the rail. In his maiden, he was in the 3rd post. He went two wide, ran in fourth, made his move and took the win by 4 ¼ lengths. In the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2), he broke from the 3rd post and finished third. In the Holy Bull Stakes, he broke from third spot in a field of seven, ran in third and fourth in the first quarter and half before making his move and taking the win by three lengths. We know that he likes to rate the pacesetter about three back and then make his move coming around the turn. In the Belmont, he did the same and in the stretch, he took off winning by about 3 lengths with a final time of 1:46.53. The fractions in the Belmont were :23.11, :46.16 and 1:09.94. He broke from the 8th post for the Belmont.
In the Travers, he ran the race in similar fashion. He broke from the 6th post and rated the pacesetter, UNCLE CHUCK, in third. The field was quite small for the Travers with only 7 horses, so they actually shifted the post positions down one in the gates. Again, as the entered the final turn around the backstretch, he moved into second and challenged the leader. As he came around the turn, he was in the lead and began to lengthen the distance between himself and the rest of the field. By the time he hit the wire, he was ahead by 5 ½ lengths.
In the Kentucky Derby, he was on the far outside of the field. The field size for the Derby was quite larger. Not as large as it's been in the past but it's a good gauge for what happens to the horses near the rail. The horse in the first post was a scratch, so it was empty. The horse in the 2nd post for the Derby was MAX PLAYER, who ended up finishing 5th. TIZ THE LAW was in the 17th post with AUTHENTIC next to him in the 18th post. Both horses kept to the plan. They broke fast and went straight to the lead. It was exactly what AUTHENTIC needed to run a good race and overcome the far outside post. TIZ THE LAW had a similar plan and both horses went to the front as fast as they could. AUTHENTIC actually stayed on the outside longer than TIZ THE LAW who got mixed in with the pack a bit more than Tagg probably would have liked. He ended up in the 4th spot on the backstretch. Around the turn, he was trying to make his move and get around NY TRAFFIC. It was a bit of a challenge but by the stretch run, he had achieved it and was running neck and neck with AUTHENTIC, but AUTHENTIC was able to hold him off and take the win. The larger field could have easily been the reason that TIZ THE LAW's typical running style didn't quite work out for him. Saying that, AUTHENTIC ran exactly the way Baffert wanted him to.
So, back to the Classic. We know he can win from the inside, but this is a big field of 14. That's a lot more traffic than many of the early races he ran in. The ideal spot for Tagg and Sackatoga Stable lead owner Jack Knowlton was any post between 5 and 8. Those have been good spots for him in the past. But, he is in the 2nd post and that means moving to Plan B, which is to break fast and get out to the 3 or 4 path. TIZ THE LAW is 3-1 second choice in this race behind IMPROBABLE at 5-2. But, handicappers could be overlooking AUTHENTIC and MAXIMUM SECURITY. We know AUTHENTIC can run the distance and break from the outside. He's in the 9 spot between his older stablemates. MAXIMUM SECURITY has grown and matured as well and should also be a real contender.
Knowlton says that TIZ will run as a 4 year old, stating "As long as he is healthy and sound and running well, he will go through his 4-year-old campaign as part of the arrangement we have with Coolmore when we agreed that he would become a stallion for them."
"I still almost have to pinch myself every day that we've got a horse that's not only in the Breeders' Cup Classic as a 3-year-old, but he's the second favorite on the morning line. We're excited. The weather is perfect, and hopefully we'll have a great race. We're happy to be here."