By Steve Sherack
ELMONT, NY — Manny Franco let out a yell in celebration that echoed through the massive empty grandstand as Tiz the Law (Constitution) came streaking under the line a dominating 3 3/4-length winner of a most unique renewal of Saturday’s GI Belmont Stakes.
Dr Post (Quality Road), a last out winner of Gulfstream’s Unbridled S. Apr. 25, and GIII Withers S. hero Max Player (Honor Code) rallied from the back to collect second and third honors, respectively.
Although positioned as the first leg of this year’s upside down Triple Crown and shortened to a one-turn distance of 1 1/8 miles due to the coronavirus pandemic, the win still provided a sweep of sorts in the series for Jack Knowlton’s Sackatoga Stable and trainer Barclay Tagg, who fell just short of a Triple Crown with fellow New York-bred Funny Cide in 2003.
“Barclay doesn’t get a lot of big horses, big opportunities, but when he does, he knows what to do,” Knowlton said from Sackatoga’s viewing party at Pennell’s restaurant in Saratoga Springs. “He’s got his and Sackatoga’s got theirs. Triple Crown, two different horses, two different years, and not a lot of people can say that.”
Tagg added, “For a lot longer before that , I was hoping to win the Belmont. Funny Cide got us close anyway and we topped it off with Tiz the Law here today.”
The white carnations looked like they were Tiz the Law’s for the taking as the traditional Belmont prelude, Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” fittingly welcomed the hulking Empire-bred and field of 10 on the track for the post parade, and the 4-5 favorite made good on the promise working out a dream trip under his 25-year-old budding superstar jockey.
The $110,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling jumped beautifully from his outside draw and sat loaded in third as expected pacesetter Tap It to Win (Tapit), returning off a sharp allowance victory here June 4, showed the way through fractions of :23.11 and :46.16.
Tiz the Law, always traveling like the winner, began to set his sights on the top two while three wide midway on the far turn.
Franco, riding in his first Belmont, took two looks back nearing the quarter pole and had to like what he saw as Tiz the Law’s big white blaze and shadowroll took him to the front without even being asked yet.
Two taps on his right shoulder to switch to his proper lead as they cornered for home, and Tiz the Law was long gone. Franco set him down and gave him a couple of reminders down the lane to keep his mind on business and his charge kept to task to report home a much-the-best winner.
Tiz the Law becomes just the fourth New York-bred, and first in 138 years, to win the Belmont.
“It means a lot to me,” said Franco, who won his first Breeders’ Cup race aboard Sharing last fall. “This is my home track. I’ve been riding here for about six years already. One leg of the Triple Crown is the dream of any jockey. I’m happy with the opportunity that I have right now. I got the horse for the [Kentucky Derby].”
Tiz the Law was a dominating victor of both of his previous starts at three at Gulfstream this winter, the GIII Holy Bull S. Feb. 1 and the GI Curlin Florida Derby last time Mar. 28.
After winning his first two career starts by a combined margin of 8 1/4 lengths, headed by the GI Champagne going a one-turn mile at Belmont, Tiz the Law endured a less-than-ideal trip to finish a close third in a sloppy renewal of Churchill’s GII Kentucky Jockey Club S.
Tagg said the plan for Tiz the Law would be to start next in the GI Runhappy Travers S. at Saratoga Aug. 8, then aim for the next two legs of the Triple Crown, the GI Kentucky Derby Sept. 5 and GI Preakness S. Oct. 3.
“It looked to me like everything just went like clockwork,” Tagg said. “That’s the way the horse likes to run and that’s the position the horse likes to be in. Manny [Franco] knows the horse very well. We discussed it quickly before I put him up on the horse and I felt very confident Manny would ride him that way. I felt pretty solid about halfway down the lane. It’s a good feeling.”
Held without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Saturday’s Belmont was contested as the Triple Crown’s first leg for the first time in history and run at a distance other than 1 1/2 miles for the first time since 1925. The Belmont offered 150-60-30-15 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.
Tiz the Law is one of five graded/black-type winners from the first crop of rising star stallion Constitution and remains his lone Grade I winner. Twin Creeks Farm purchased his Grade II-winning dam Tizfiz, a full-sister to GSW & GISP Fury Kapcori, for $125,000 in foal to Mineshaft at the 2014 Keeneland November Sale. Her 2014 Tapit filly summoned $525,000 at the following year’s Keeneland September sale and went on to place in multiple stakes. The 16-year-old mare is also responsible for the unraced juvenile filly Angel Oak (Mission Impazible) and a yearling colt by Mission Impazible. She was bred back to Constitution for the 2020 season. Tiz the Law also hails from the family of Horse of the Year Favorite Trick (Phone Trick).
Saturday, Belmont Park
BELMONT S. PRESENTED BY NYRA BETS-GI, $1,000,000, Belmont, 6-20, 3yo, 1 1/8m, 1:46.53, ft.
1–TIZ THE LAW, 126, c, 3, by Constitution
1st Dam: Tizfiz (GSW, $410,944), by Tiznow
2nd Dam: Gin Running, by Go for Gin
3rd Dam: Crafty and Evil, by Crafty Prospector
($110,000 Ylg ’18 SARAUG). O-Sackatoga Stable; B-Twin Creeks
Farm (NY); T-Barclay Tagg; J-Manuel Franco. $535,000.
Lifetime Record: 6-5-0-1, $1,480,300. *1/2 to Awestruck
(Tapit), MSP, $357,116. Werk Nick Rating: A.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Dr Post, 126, c, 3, Quality Road–Mary Delaney, by Hennessy.
($200,000 Wlg ’17 KEENOV; $400,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP). O-St.
Elias Stable; B-Cloyce C Clark (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher.
3–Max Player, 126, c, 3, Honor Code–Fools in Love, by Not For
Love. ($150,000 RNA Ylg ’18 KEESEP). O-George E. Hall &
SportBLX Thoroughbreds Corp.; B-K & G Stables (KY); T-Linda
Margins: 3 3/4, 1HF, 2HF. Odds: 0.80, 7.90, 14.20.
Also Ran: Pneumatic, Tap It to Win, Sole Volante, Modernist, Farmington Road, Fore Left, Jungle Runner. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.