Sackatoga Stable's Tiz the Law, winner of last year's Grade 1 Champagne and a major player on the road to the 2020 Triple Crown, was named New York-bred Horse of the Year and champion 2-year-old male Monday by the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc.
The son of Constitution would have been presented with the honors during the NYTB's Annual Awards Dinner Monday night at Saratoga National in Saratoga Springs but the event was cancelled following the global coronavirus pandemic. The NYTB and the team from The Saratoga Special still produced a commemorative program honoring the 2019 champions and finalists. Click here to read the program and scroll down to read Tiz the Law's championship profile by The Special's Sean Clancy.
Tiz the Law - Horse of the Year, champion 2-year-old male
By Sean Clancy
Don’t bother looking it up. It’s been 17 years.
That’s when Funny Cide, Sackatoga Stable and Barclay Tagg rocked Thoroughbred racing, winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and nearly the Triple Crown. The overachieving gelding, his unheralded owners and his hardscrabble trainer changed New York breeding and racing forever.
And here they are again with another talented New York-bred aiming at the top. Tiz the Law, champion 2-year-old colt and Horse of the Year for 2019, has won three of four starts, including the Grade 1 Champagne as a 2-year-old and the Grade 3 Holy Bull as a 3-year-old. The Kentucky Derby is on the radar, whether it’s on the first Saturday in May or the first Saturday in September.
For Sackatoga’s founder, Jack Knowlton, winning the Kentucky Derby was a one-off achievement, one he wouldn’t dare dream about again. The Saratogian and his stable played their model of buying a few New York-breds every year since Funny Cide but to think it could happen again…
“Come on, you not only climbed to the top of the mountain, but you climbed to the top of Mount Everest,” Knowlton said in March. “Everybody who has ever wanted to be in this game, everybody who is in this game, you want to win the Kentucky Derby. And we did it. The chances of that happening to us were so remote, and yet, it did happen.”
To happen a second time...
“Never in my mind, never an aspiration, never an expectation, not really even a hope,” Knowlton said. “Never could I imagine that we would be in the position to have a horse that we would consider a Derby horse. Not just a Derby horse, but he’s on just about everybody’s list.”
Purchased from Sequel New York for $110,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale in 2018, Tiz the Law followed Funny Cide’s path and went to Tony Everard in Florida for early training and arrived at Tagg’s barn in the spring. Bred by Twin Creeks Farm, the son of Constitution impressed Knowlton at Saratoga last summer.
“I saw him at Belmont a couple of times, but when it began to sink in that we had a pretty nice horse was going over at 6 o’clock in the morning and watching his breezes,” Knowlton said. “Not only did he have fast breezes but the rider just couldn’t pull him up, he was halfway down the backside before he could get him pulled up.”
In his debut, Tiz the Law hammered well-meant first-time starter, Dream Bigger, rolling to a 4 ¼-length win. Tagg and Knowlton discussed the Hopeful but a sore shin scrapped that and the Champagne was dangled.
“Barclay and I went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, agonizing, can you really aim as high as the Grade 1 Champagne, the second best 2-year-old race in the country behind the Breeders’ Cup?” Knowlton said. “The more we talked about it and the more we looked at who was out there, finally, I said to Barclay, ‘The way he ran in Saratoga, the number he got, the way he did it, there doesn’t seem to be any distance limitations.’ We decided to take a shot. Sometimes you get lucky and we did.”
Tiz the Law stumbled, regrouped, waited and ripped past horses to dominate the Grade 1 stakes.
Tagg and Knowlton opted to skip the Breeders’ Cup like they had done with Funny Cide and traveled to Churchill Downs for the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. That was a bust, he finished a tangled-and-wrangled third, fumbling an Eclipse Award in the process.
“He got beat, but we knew that wasn’t the horse we had,” Knowlton said. “It’s one of those you just draw a line through and that’s what we did.”
If that was a pencil line, Tiz the Law swathed a paint brush through it with a romp in the Holy Bull in February and another in the Florida Derby in March – continuing his march toward the Derby (whenever it may be). Could it really happen again?
“Here we are on everybody’s radar screen, which is 100 percent different than Funny Cide. Nobody thought he could win the Derby,” Knowlton said. “But with this guy, Barclay’s been there, he’s won it. We proved that a New York-bred can win. Before Funny Cide, nobody gave any thought to a New York-bred winning the Derby. But we’ve been there, people are taking this horse seriously and I think they should.”
Bank On Shea. B.c. 2017, Central Banker–Miss Moultree, Uncle Mo. Breeder: Dr. Scott Pierce. Owner: Shea D Boy’s Stable. Trainer: Jason Servis. 3-2-0-1. $329,900. Won debut at Saratoga, finished third in Notebook Stakes at Aqueduct and closed campaign with nose score in $500,000 New York Stallion Series at Aqueduct in December.
Tiz The Law
B. c. 2017, Constitution-Tizfiz, Tiznow.
Breeder: Twin Creeks Farm.
Owner: Sackatoga Stable.
Trainer: Barclay Tagg.
2019 record: 3-2-0-1. $347,000. 2019 stakes: Champagne (Gr. 1).
Other Champion New York-bred 2-year-old Male Finalists
Captain Bombastic. Ch.c. 2017, Forty Tales–Stolen Star, Cat Thief. Breeder: Chester and Mary Broman. Owner: Team Hanley. Trainer: Jeremiah Englehart. 3-2-0-1. $231,600. Started career with back-to-back wins at Belmont – a maiden in September and the Sleepy Hollow in October. Third behind two finalists in New York Stallion Series.
City Man. Dk.b./br.c. 2017, Mucho Macho Man–City Scamper, City Zip. Breeder: Moonstar Farm. Owner: Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Peter and Patty Searles. Trainer: Christophe Clement. 5-2-0-1. $192,200. Won his first two at Saratoga, a maiden and the Funny Cide Stakes.
Cleon Jones. Dk.b./br.c. 2017, Tale Of The Cat–Whispering, Quiet American. Breeder: Empire Equines. Owner: Gold Square. Trainer: Jeremiah Englehart. 6-2-2-0. $222,255. Named for Mets World Series hero. Won a Saratoga maiden in late July, and added Bertram Bongard at Belmont in September.
Dream Bigger. Gr.c. 2017, Mission Impazible–Downtown Daria, Sky Mesa. Breeder: Sequel New York, Twin Creeks Racing, Pamela Zielinski. Owner: Repole Stable. Trainer: Rudy Rodriguez. 5-2-3-0. $305,828. After two seconds against maidens, dominated New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes in September, and added Notebook in November before losing photo to Bank On Shea in New York Stallion Series.
NYTB published the winners on the organization’s website (https://www.nytbreeders.org/) and social media channels on the original date of the event. At the same time, NYTB launched a microsite at nytbawards.com to host a video presentation produced by PM Advertising featuring the top performances of all nominees and showcasing the winners.