SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — The Belmont Stakes champion Tiz the Law added the Travers Stakes to his winning résumé on Saturday, making him the favorite to win the postponed Kentucky Derby next month and then possibly to claim the sport’s 14th Triple Crown with a Preakness victory in October.
A New York-bred son of Constitution, Tiz the Law ran away from Caracaro down the stretch to win what is known as the Mid-Summer Derby by five and a half lengths in front of an empty grandstand at Saratoga Race Course.
Tiz the Law, ridden by Manny Franco, covered the mile-and-a-quarter distance in two minutes and 95 hundredths of a second, paying his backers $3 on a $2 bet. It was the sixth victory in seven starts for Tiz the Law, and the $535,000 first-place check pushed his career earnings past $2 million.
The colt’s victory validated an ambitious schedule set by his owners at Sackatoga Stable, one that mirrored itineraries of some of the sport’s greatest horses.
The Triple Crown champions Sir Barton (1919), Omaha (1935), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943) and Citation (1948) each competed in a race between the Preakness and the Belmont, typically the final two legs. All but Omaha were victorious.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has reshuffled seasons for many sports, has upended the thoroughbred racing calendar. Instead of the Kentucky Derby serving as the first leg of the Triple Crown on the first Saturday in May, the Belmont Stakes took the leadoff spot for the first time in history, on a Saturday in June.
Tiz the Law’s victory in the Travers was particularly sweet for Jack Knowlton, the stable’s managing partner. In 2003, Knowlton commanded a New York-bred gelding, Funny Cide, who made the Sackatoga partnership semifamous by winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
Knowlton, who lives in Saratoga Springs, and many of his partners were heartbroken 17 years ago when Funny Cide got sick and was scratched the day before the Travers.
Saturday’s victory was the latest bit of consolation. After the Belmont victory, Knowlton and his 34 current partners sold Tiz the Law’s stallion rights in an eight-figure deal with Coolmore America’s Ashford Stud. Knowlton would not reveal the exact price, but he acknowledged that Sackatoga would receive bonuses if Tiz the Law were to win the Travers, the Derby, the Preakness and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which is scheduled for November.
Ashford Stud structured a bonus deal for the 2015 Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, that promised his owner, Ahmed Zayat, $3 million for winning the Derby, $2 million each for victories in the Preakness, the Belmont, the Travers Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, as well as a $2 million bonus for being named the 3-year-old male champion. The colt won all but the Travers, where he was overtaken at the finish by the long shot Keen Stakes.