Unprecedented times led to unprecedented accomplishments for Tiz the Law in 2020.

Already a Grade 1 winner with a New York-bred Horse of the Year and divisional

 championship in his holster, Tiz the Law added to that haul with two additional crowns and made more history along the way. He became the fifth back-to-back New York-bred Horse of the Year, joining Say Florida Sandy (2000-01), Funny Cide (2003-04), Haynesfield (2009-10) and Mind Your Biscuits (2016-17).

And it doesn’t end there.

“You may know this, somebody told me that he’s the only New York-bred to win four Grade 1s,” Sackatoga’s Jack Knowlton said in late March. “I know Funny Cide had three and I can’t think of anybody that would have won four.”

Knowlton and his stat provider are correct as Tiz the Law’s victory in the 2019 Champagne and 2020 Florida Derby, Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes make him the sole member of that four-win club since the practice of grading races started in 1970.

The son of Constitution did it under even more unique circumstances, starting the season like many classic hopefuls in South Florida with steady training and a final prep for the Kentucky Derby, only to see things unravel when the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the world and scuttled racing schedules across the country.

Uncertainty abounded but Tiz the Law proved the rare constant. He won the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park Feb. 1, negating some of the ill-feelings from his troubled third in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club late in his 2-year-old season at Churchill Downs, and rapidly rose up the rankings of classic contenders.

Tiz the Law breezed five times from Dec. 30, 2019 to the Holy Bull, once more nine days after that win and four more times leading up to the Florida Derby in late March. By the time the Florida Derby was run – and won by 4 1/4 lengths by Tiz the Law – racing was being conducted without fans at Gulfstream and every other track in America.

Hopes of a normal run at the Kentucky Derby – where Tiz the Law likely would have been favored to give Sackatoga Stable and trainer Barclay Tagg a second victory after Funny Cide in 2003 – went up in smoke when Churchill Downs moved the race to Labor Day weekend.

“The way he was in the Florida Derby, if he went to the Kentucky Derby in a normal time frame he’d have been pretty tough to beat then,” Knowlton said. “But you never know. (Bob) Baffert had different horses then, it wouldn’t have been Authentic, it might have been one of the other ones. Who knows? You can’t speculate about it.”

Tagg kept Tiz the Law going and ready at a high level as winter folded into spring, staying in Florida longer than usual and sharpening the knife at Palm Meadows for whenever racing returned in the north. He breezed Tiz the Law 10 times from the Florida Derby until the rescheduled and shortened Belmont Stakes June 20, which they won without any fans in the stands in the first major sporting event in America since early March.

Knowlton and many members of Sackatoga Stable watched on television under a tent at Pennell’s Restaurant in Saratoga Springs.

“At least we had our people together,” Knowlton said. Tiz the Law and his people – Tagg and his longtime partner and assistant Robin Smullen, exercise rider Heather Smullen and groom Juan Barajas – continued to be the biggest story into the summer and after his 5 1/2-length victory in the Travers again in front of a spectator-less stand at Saratoga the train was rolling. He suffered back-to-back defeats in his final two starts – a second in the Kentucky Derby and a sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, both races won by Authentic.

The three Grade 1s in succession and his Champagne score put Tiz the Law above the three other New York-breds with three Grade 1 wins – Mind Your Biscuits, Dayatthespa and Funny Cide – and into a class with two other leading runners bred in the Empire State with multiple major victories in Questionnaire and Mr. Right. Questionnaire, a foal of 1927, won the 1931 Metropolitan and Brooklyn handicaps in 1931 and the Paumonok and Kings County handicaps in 1932. Mr. Right, a foal of 1963, won the Dwyer and Roamer in 1966, Trenton and Queens County in 1967 and Santa Anita Handicap, Woodward (defeating Damascus at equal weights) and another edition of the Trenton in 1968.

Comparisons to those throwbacks aren’t so far-fetched when considering Tiz the Law’s workload throughout his two seasons, where he won six of nine before being retired with bone bruising in January. From his arrival in Tagg’s barn in the spring of 2019 until he retired, Tiz the Law breezed a remarkable 56 times – 19 at 2 and 37 at 3 – including 19 bullet works without a break.

“We kept going because we never knew,” Knowlton said. “Once Covid came, for the longest time we didn’t know when we were going to race, where we were going to race or which race it was going to be.

“Barclay doesn’t get enough credit for what he was able to do with him under those tremendously unique circumstances, to keep him at a peak for that long. Basically from breaking his maiden in August in his 2-year-old year to getting to the (Breeders’ Cup) Classic. He was never away from the barn.”

Bred by Twin Creeks Farm, foaled at Sequel New York in Hudson and out of now two-time New York Broodmare of the Year Tizfiz, Tiz the Law took up residence in one of the stallion barns at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., this season. He’s standing his first season for $40,000, proving popular among breeders and Knowlton is already looking forward.

“There will be some Tiz the Law New York-breds coming soon,” he said. “That will be fun.”

The above profile appeared in the 2020 New York-bred champions commemorative program produced by ST Publishing, the team behind The Saratoga Special and Thisishorseracing.com. Download the full program to read all the champion profiles here.

 

NYTBprogram20New York’s 2020 honorees: 

New York-Bred Horse of the Year and Champion Three-Year-Old Male:
Tiz the Law
 (Constitution – Tizfiz, by Tiznow)
Breeder: Twin Creeks Farm
Owner: Sackatoga Stable
Trainer: Barclay Tagg
Foaling farm: Sequel Stallions New York, Hudson 

Champion Two-Year-Old Filly
Simply Ravishing (Laoban – Four Wishes, by More Than Ready)
Breeder: Meg Levy
Owner: Harold Lerner LLC, Magdalena Racing (Sherri McPeek) and Nehoc Stables
Trainer: Ken McPeek
Foaling farm: Stonegate Stables, Fort Edward

Champion Two-Year-Old Male
Brooklyn Strong (Wicked Strong – Riviera Chic, by Medaglia d’Oro)
Breeders: Cheryl Prudhomme and Dr. Michael Gallivan
Owner: Mark Schwartz
Trainer: Daniel Velazquez
Foaling farm: Shamrock Hill Farm, Fort Edward

Champion Three-Year-Old Filly
Sharp Starr (Munnings – Mindy Gold, by A.P. Indy)
Breeder: Stonewall Farm
Owner: Barry K. Schwartz
Trainer: Horacio DePaz
Foaling farm: Stonewall Farm, Granite Springs 

Champion Older Dirt Female
Lucky Move (Lookin At Lucky – Quiet Mover, by Quiet American)
Breeders: Maltese Cross Stables and Stonegate Stables LLC
Owner: Ten Strike Racing
Trainer: Juan Carlos Guerrero
Foaling farm: Stonegate Stables, Fort Edward 

Champion Older Dirt Male
Mr. Buff (Friend Or Foe – Speightful Affair, by Speightstown)
Breeders/Owners: Chester and Mary Broman
Trainer: John C. Kimmel
Foaling farm: Chestertown Farm, Chestertown

Champion Turf Female and Champion Female Sprinter
Lead Guitar (Maclean’s Music – Eleadora, by Finality)
Breeder: Windylea Farm LLC
Owners: Jim and Susan Hill
Trainers: Eddie Kenneally, George Weaver
Foaling farm: McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, Saratoga Springs 

Champion Turf Male
Somelikeithotbrown (Big Brown – Marilyn Monroan, by Tapit)
Breeder: Hot Pink Stables and Sand Dollar Stables
Owner: Skychai Racing LLC and Sand Dollar Stable LLC
Trainer: Mike Maker
Foaling farm: Sequel Stallions New York, Hudson 

Champion Male Sprinter
Funny Guy (Big Brown – Heavenly Humor, by Distorted Humor)
Breeder: Hibiscus Stables
Owner: Gatsas Stables, R. A. Hill Stable and Swick Stable
Trainer: John Terranova
Foaling farm: Waldorf Farm, North Chatham 

Broodmare of the Year: Tizfiz (Tiznow – Gin Running, by Go for Gin), dam of Tiz the Law
New York-Bred Trainer of the Year: Barclay Tagg
New York-Bred Jockey of the Year: Manuel Franco
New York Breeder of the Year: Twin Creeks Farm

Read the 2020 NYTB Champions program