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Shock-a-toga: Tiz the Law, Winner of the 2020 Travers and Belmont Stakes, Retired

Sackatoga Stable revealed that the Thoroughbred's surprise retirement was due to a decision by his veterinarian.

Tiz the Law (in pink), who won the Belmont in June, as well as the Travers in August, will be retired to stud in Kentucky. (Annette Jasko)

‘Tis a damn shame. In the waning days of 2020, Sackatoga Stable has revealed that local Thoroughbred hero Tiz the Law, who took home victories at both the Belmont and Travers Stakes during the pandemic-twisted racing season, will be retired to stud, effective immediately.

“He came off the track yesterday at Palm Meadows, with [Trainer] Robin [Smullen] on him as usual,” Sackatoga’s Managing Partner Jack Knowlton tells Saratoga Living. “She felt that something wasn’t quite right. So [his veterinarian] did a series of X-rays that showed that there was severe bone bruising to the bottom of his [front leg] bone, and basically, when that happens, you can’t continue to train and race a horse without a significant threat of a catastrophic breakdown.” (In other words, racing on the leg could have killed him.) “Obviously, that’s not anything that we would ever do to any horse, particularly that horse,” says Knowlton. Then, after asking for a second opinion from another veterinarian, the decision was confirmed.

Despite the way his 3-year-old season ended, with losses in the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic—likely barring him from an Eclipse Award—just this past month, Knowlton was bullish on Tiz’s chances during his 4-year-old campaign. On November 12, Sackatoga announced that Tiz would likely kick it off in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, with Hall of Fame jockey John Velasquez aboard, taking the place of Manny Franco. At the time, Knowlton even emphasized that “Tiz’s story still has another chapter.”

Although that obviously won’t be happening, Knowlton had nothing but kind words to say about his prized Thoroughbred. “In a horrible year because of the pandemic, he was a bright spot, obviously for [Trainers] Barclay [Tagg] and Robin [Smullen] and their team and all 35 owners, and an awful lot of fans,” he says. “We have a tremendous number of fans, and a lot of merchandise was purchased by people all over the country and beyond.” Knowlton couldn’t help but sound a little dejected, though. “It was a great run, and we would’ve loved to have had another year, run in the Whitney, win the Whitney with 50,000 fans in the stands at Saratoga. Obviously, that’s not going to happen.

Tiz’s retirement may mark the end of his days on the track, but he’ll soon begin his career as a stallion, standing stud at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky. (The stud farm says that his stud fee will be announced early next year.) When asked whether Knowlton would be interested in someday adding one of Tiz the Law’s progeny to his stables, his answer was, unequivocally, yes. “If I can get somebody to have a New York–bred by Tiz the Law, absolutely,” says Knowlton. “With the rules the way they are, I will expect that to happen. I may even talk to some people who are in the breeding business and [have them] send a mare down and make it a New York–bred. Maybe we can do some business.”

Will Levith

Will Levith is Editorial Director at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living magazine. He's a native Saratogian and graduate of Saratoga Springs High School. His work has been published by Esquire, Playboy, Condé Nast Traveler, Men's Health, RealClearLife and many others. He lives in Troy with his wife, Laura, and dog, Esopus.

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