Tiz the Law top choice at Belmont
It’s been 17 years since Jack Knowlton and his Sackatoga Stable pals rode yellow school buses to the Belmont Stakes. It was a rollicking party on wheels for the group that came to watch their colt Funny Cide try to sweep the Triple Crown.
It didn’t happen that day.
Now, the ownership group that buys just one or two New York-bred colts a year is back to try again with Tiz the Law, above. He’s the star of a 10-horse field for the Belmont on Saturday, perhaps the biggest event in U.S. sports since the coronavirus pandemic shut down competition in mid-March.
“I still wake up and kind of pinch myself and say it looks like lightning really has struck twice,” Knowlton said.
Tiz the Law is the early 6-5 favorite for the Belmont, which kicks off what Knowlton calls a “backwards Triple Crown.” Instead of completing the series of three races run over five weeks, the Belmont is getting things started for the first time. The Kentucky Derby follows on Sept. 5, with the Preakness finishing up on Oct. 3.
Tiz the Law is the only horse in the race with Grade 1 stakes victories. He’ll try to buck history as the first New Yorkbred in 138 years to win the $1 million race. His 82-year-old trainer, Barclay Tagg, is chasing a win that eluded him in 2003 after Funny Cide won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness only to lose his Triple Crown bid in the Belmont.
“Tiz The Law has been the best 3-yearold since January basically, and he remains that,” retired Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey said. “He would have been favored in whatever Triple Crown race we ran first, so we have a superstar that we’re going to see on Saturday.”
This Belmont — rescheduled from June 6 — will be run at 1 1⁄8 miles, the first time since 1925 it won’t be its usual grueling 1 1⁄2 miles. The top four finishers earn Kentucky Derby qualifying points, including 150 to the winner.
“He’s a versatile horse. He can be there on the pace or sit off, so I can do whatever I want,” Tiz the Law’s jockey Manny Franco said. “He’s run here before and won and I think he likes the track, so that’s to our advantage.”
Casse saddles 6-1 shot Tap It to Win, trying to become the first trainer to win back-to-back in 24 years after taking last year’s Belmont with Sir Winston. Linda Rice oversees 15-1 shot Max Player.