By Bill Finley
Jack Knowlton, who heads the syndicate that owns Tiz the Law (Constitution), reported that his horse came out of Saturday's win in the GIII Holy Bull S. in good order and may go next in the Mar. 21 GII Louisiana Derby. Knowlton said the other choice is a start in the Mar. 28 GI Florida Derby, but confirmed that he was leaning toward going to Louisiana.
“We have been leaning toward Louisiana all along,” Knowlton said Sunday. “We are kind of intrigued by the fact they extended it to a mile-and-three-sixteenths. You have that long stretch and he should get a clear run down the stretch. That is appealing to us. We will have a lot of discussions and watch what goes on elsewhere. [Trainer] Barclay [Tagg], [assistant trainer] Robin [Smullen] and I have been through this before [with Funny Cide]. We'll make a decision that everybody is happy with.”
Knowlton and Tagg were successful taking the Holy Bull-Louisiana Derby route with Funny Cide (Distorted Humor) in 2003. The gelding finished fifth in the Holy Bull and then an improving third in the Louisiana Derby. He followed that with a second-place finish in the GI Wood Memorial before winning the GI Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness S. Should Tiz the Law run in the Louisiana Derby, it would be his last start before the GI Kentucky Derby.
“It's not so much that the Louisiana Derby is sentimental to us,” Knowlton said. “But it was a path that we took and we won the Derby. It was a path we liked then and like now. The downside is shipping, what that entails and the extent it could take something out of the horse. We also know, after yesterday, that he likes Gulfstream. While we won't be ducking anybody, we will want to see what happens in the GII Fountain of Youth. If Dennis' Moment (Tiznow) is as good as Dale Romans and a lot of other people think he is and he runs a 105 Beyer in the Fountain of Youth, I wouldn't want to take him on in the Florida Derby. I'd rather wait for that to happen in the Kentucky.”
Knowlton said he has been watching the competition in the 3-year-old ranks closely and will continue to do so.
“I looked at the other Derby preps Saturday and Thousand Words (Pioneerof the Nile) was all out to beat an 18-1 shot.” Knowlton said. “Shotski (Blame) got passed by a relative newcomer in the Withers. The next one coming up is Independence Hall (Constitution) in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa. It's pretty impressive that Constitution now has two horses from his first crop who have run 100 Beyers and are major threats for the Derby.”
Tiz the Law had to overcome a bad trip to win the Holy Bull. Under Manny Franco, he showed surprising early speed before he was taken back, steadied and wound up fourth behind horses. Once he settled and got into the clear, he shot by the front-runners to win by three lengths.
“He showed a new dimension, popping right out of the gate like he did,” Knowlton said. “We didn't want to be on front end and didn't want to be in a speed duel. We told Manny don't get stuck inside. That's what cost us the race in GII Kentucky Jockey Club. He knew he needed to get outside, and fortunately, the horse responded. It probably cost him two, three lengths, but he was good enough to overcome it and Manny got the job done.”
Saturday's card at Gulfstream also included the GIII Swale S., a seven-furlong race won by Mischievous Alex (Into Mischief). Trainer John Servis reported Sunday that he isn't ready to commit his colt to the Kentucky Derby trail.
“If he's doing good, he's going to have to show me he wants that, but I don't think he does,” Servis said. “I don't want to put him on the trail and next thing, you end up with no horse at the end of the year.”
Servis said the GIII Gotham S. at Aqueduct could be next for his horse.