News and STORIES

Tiz the Law Scores Florida Derby

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Monday March 30, 2020
The Curlin Florida Derby (G1) had a very unpredictable lead-up due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it did, in fact, run. The doors were shut to the general public at Gulfstream Park as Tiz the Law crossed the line first on March 28.

The Florida Derby is the biggest prep for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). The 32 Sackatoga partners, joined by trainer Barclay Tagg, celebrated as the 3-year-old was dominant in the race.

Jack Knowlton is responsible for running the Sackatoga Stable partnership.

"He is something special, no doubt," said Knowlton. "We're going to enjoy this one, and if he stays healthy and things work out well, this is going to be a fun year for us."

Traditional Route to the Derby

The traditional route to the Kentucky Derby would include 100 qualifying points from the Florida Derby for a spot. The Florida Derby has produced a total of 24 Run for the Roses winners, and most trainers and connections would turn toward the Kentucky Derby.

Now, there is a lot of uncertainty with the postponement of the Derby to Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs. Tiz the Law's 4 1/4-length victory is a big deal, but what happens next is still unknown. 

Tiz the Law and Ete Indien

Tiz the Law, with his impressive performances, would normally be set to be the favorite or second choice going into the Kentucky Derby. Prior to his big win in the Florida Derby, he took a three-length victory in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream, in what was his 3-year-old debut. 

The Holy Bull Stakes (G3) ran on Feb. 1, and the second-place finisher was Ete Indien. He went on to win the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) by 8 1/2 lengths. He then finished third behind the 80-1 longshot Shivaree in the Florida Derby. 

Tiz the Law won the Champagne Stakes (G1) in his second career start. His biggest disappointment came when he finished third on a sloppy track in last year's Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2). 

"He's got that aplomb about him," trainer Barclay Tagg said. "Whatever you ask him to do, he does. You see how easy he runs."

What's Next

The Arkansas Derby (G1) has been moved to May 2, the original day for the Kentucky Derby. Knowlton has said that he currently has no plans to head to Hot Springs. 

"We'll stay here on the East Coast and see what happens," Knowlton said. "I don't want to face Bob Baffert until I have to."

Knowlton will hold off to see what unfolds in the next few months. He is hoping that the Preakness Stakes (G1) and the Belmont Stakes (G1) will run sometime in the spring or early summer, or maybe the Wood Memorial Presented by Resorts World Casino. 

He also has his sight set on the Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1), which he hopes gets moved to the start of August due to the postponement of the Derby.

Knowlton's partnership took the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness with gelding Funny Cide.

"You plan on being at Louisville in five weeks, and we have a horse who had a great chance to win on the first Saturday in May," said Knowlton. "Now we have to find a path to get him to the first Saturday in September, and with the way the world is now, no one knows what that path looks like. 

"I'm a New Yorker, and I'd love to run in New York again. The Kentucky Derby is the be-all and end-all, but if they do the right thing and move the Travers and they can run the Preakness and Belmont before, it would give us a nice set up to the Travers and Kentucky Derby."