Imagine winning the lottery twice. That’s the sort of longshot, fairytale ride Jack Knowlton and Sackatoga Stable are on right now. Seventeen years after the gutsy gelding Funny Cide took the racing world by storm and won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Tiz the Law delivered the small Saratoga Springs–based partnership and trainer Barclay Tagg their missing Triple Crown jewel with a tour de force performance in the Belmont Stakes on June 20. A day later, Tagg revealed what he had planned next for the sensational New York–bred son of rising sire Constitution. “I’ve never won the Travers, and I want to win it,” says Tagg. “It’s very important to me.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Derby was rescheduled to September 5 and the Preakness to October 3, making the Belmont—which was also pushed back two weeks to the 20th, the first leg of the Triple Crown for the first time in the history of the series. Tiz the Law won the race, impressively, by 3¾ lengths, covering the 1⅛ miles in 1:46.53. It was the first time the Belmont had been carded at nine furlongs since 1894, and with the win, Tiz the Law became the first New York–bred to cross the finish line first since Forester in 1882. Tagg’s victory was also a special one: at 82, it made him the oldest trainer to ever win the race. “To win Triple Crown races in two different years—not many people can say that,” says Sackatoga managing partner Knowlton, who watched the Belmont at Pennell’s Restaurant in Saratoga Springs, because owners were not allowed to attend the race due to COVID-19 concerns. When asked what it was like to win the Belmont Stakes with a New York–bred, he says, “It’s tremendous. We buy New York–breds—that’s our game—and we don’t spend a lot of money. We’ve been with Barclay Tagg for 25 years, and I keep telling everybody Barclay doesn’t get a lot of big horses or opportunities, but when he does, he knows what to do. We had a great and amazing day. Tiz delivered for us.”
Barring any setbacks in training, Tiz the Law will be featured in the 151st Travers at Saratoga Race Course, which this year has been rescheduled to August 8. The race will also mark the one-year anniversary of Tiz the Law’s first career win there. The Travers will offer the budding superstar the opportunity to win another prize coveted by the Sackatoga partnership that Funny Cide was unable to secure. In August 2003, Saratoga was buzzing with Funny Cide mania approaching the Travers—even Stewart’s Shops got in on the action with a “Funny Cide Pride” ice cream flavor—but the fan favorite came down with a respiratory infection the week of the race and was unable to compete in the Midsummer Derby.
Purchased for $110,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York Bred Yearling Sale just a few furlongs from the track, Tiz the Law has won five of his six career starts, including four graded stakes, with earnings of $1,480,300. For Sackatoga, which campaigns only a select few horses per year, Tiz the Law has provided another affirmation that anything is possible in racing. For Tagg, who won his first race as trainer in 1972 but had been without a Grade 1 win in the eight years prior to having Tiz the Law in his barn, it is evidence that hope springs eternal in this game.