Heavy Hitters Draw Outside for Derby

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LOUISVILLE, KY–The likely top three wagering choices for the GI Kentucky Derby will break next to each other on Saturday, with heavy favorite Tiz the Law (Constitution) drawn in 17. GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby hero Honor A. P. (Honor Code) will be posted to his inside, and GI Haskell S. winner Authentic (Into Mischief) was assigned the far outside 18 hole during Tuesday morning’s post draw. The 146th “Run for the Roses” lost a major contender earlier in the morning when streaking Art Collector (Bernardini) was ruled out due to a minor foot issue. Tiz the Law, whose perfect record in this jumbled-up season includes convincing scores in the GIII Holy Bull S., GI Curlin Florida Derby, GI Belmont S. and most recently in the Aug. 8 GI Runhappy Travers S., was given ultra low 3-5 odds on Mike Battaglia’s morning line. No Derby favorite has been 3-5 on the line since Easy Goer in 1989, and Tiz the Law’s quote is the lowest since Empire Maker was set at 6-5 in 2003. Both of those runners settled for second in their respective Derbies.

“I like being on the outside, I didn’t particularly want to be out that far but he seems to handle everything that’s thrown at him so we’ll just have to leave it up to him,” said the Sackatoga Stable-owner favorite’s trainer Barclay Tagg. “It gives you a chance, if you have any speed at all, it gives you a chance to get a better position.”

While no horse has won the Derby from the 17 hole, horses have won from further out than that, including last year’s victor via DQ Country House (Lookin At Lucky), who was drawn 20. Plus gates one and 20 will be left open due to the less than full field. This year’s Derby marks the debut of a custom-made starting gate that can accommodate up to 20 horses and eliminate the need for an auxiliary gate.

“I just put those kind of things out of my mind,” said Tagg, who took the 2003 Derby with another Sackatoga-owned New York-bred in Funny Cide (Distorted Humor). “There are a lot of horses who didn’t win the Derby so frankly I’m not that worried about it.”

The veteran conditioner continued, “He’s a unique horse, I keep pinching myself because he’s such a unique horse. Everything we’ve asked him to do he just does it. He’s a strong horse, he’s not flighty but he’s on the muscle all the time. He’s so exciting in his races. You think he’s gotten in trouble here, in trouble there and next thing you know he’s in front. He’s a pretty amazing horse. I don’t know if I’ve seen a horse like him.”

Tiz the Law arrived Tuesday morning from Saratoga after a routine flight–the New York-based contingent’s journey had been pushed back a day due to scheduling issues.

“He flew in from Albany and we met him here,” Tagg said. “He walked off the van, took a couple turns, did his business and started eating hay.”

Hall of Famer Bob Baffert’s Derby line-up has changed a number of times during this strung-out Triple Crown season, and he’ll ultimately have two chances to tie Ben Jones’s record of six wins. In addition to the speedy Authentic–whose record would be perfect if not for a second to Honor A. P. in the Santa Anita Derby–he’ll be represented by $1-million KEESEP yearling Thousand Words (Pioneerof the Nile), who upended Honor A. P. in Del Mar’s Shared Belief S. last time Aug. 1.

“Not ideal for Authentic but I’m OK with it,” Baffert told the Churchill Downs media team via text. “He’s out of harm’s way. Just glad to be in the gate.”

Starlight Racing’s Jack Wolf said of Authentic’s draw: “The one time he was out there in California he broke dead right [in the Santa Anita Derby under Drayden Van Dyke] so hopefully [jockey Johnny Velazquez] will be a stronger rider this time around. I guess it’s better than one or two… I would think [he’ll have to send]. The one hole now is basically what the old three hole was and there will probably be a couple scratches between now and then so maybe we do move in a couple spots.”

1. Finnick the Fierce (Dialed In) – 50-1
2. Max Player (Honor Code) – 30-1
3. Enforceable (Tapit) – 30-1
4. Storm the Court (Court Vision) – 50-1
5. Major Fed (Ghostzapper) – 50-1
6. King Guillermo (Uncle Mo) – 20-1
7. Money Moves (Candy Ride {Arg}) – 30-1
8. South Bend (Algorithms) – 50-1
9. Mr. Big News (Giant’s Causeway) – 50-1
10. Thousand Words (Pioneerof the Nile) – 15-1
11. Necker Island (Hard Spun) – 50-1
12. Sole Volante (Karakontie {Jpn}) – 30-1
13. Attachment Rate (Hard Spun) – 50-1
14. Winning Impression (Paynter) – 50-1
15. Ny Traffic (Cross Traffic) – 20-1
16. Honor A. P. (Honor Code) – 5-1
17. Tiz the Law (Constitution) – 3-5
18. Authentic (Into Mischief) – 8-1

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