(STL.News) The Triple Crown is the most coveted achievement in all of North American horse racing. So difficult is it to achieve, only 13 horses have been able to do so in its 145-year history.
The Triple Crown is awarded to any horse that wins the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes – races reserved for three-year-old thoroughbreds – in the same season.
Legendary racehorses such as Secretariat, American Pharoah, and War Admiral are among its alumni, and in 2020, Tiz the Law is aiming to become Triple Crown winner No 14.
In this the most unique of years for horse racing, the Triple Crown schedule has been adjusted in response to the coronavirus outbreak. This has meant that the Belmont Stakes – traditionally the final race – has been staged first and will be followed by the Kentucky Derby (normally first) on September 5. The Preakness Stakes will for the first time host the finale on October 3.
After storming to a three-and-three-quarter-lengths victory in the Belmont Stakes on June 20, Tiz the Law is the only horse in contention to win the Triple Crown this year.
The Sackatoga Stable horse has since been installed as the favorite to win next month at Churchill Downs, according to the latest Kentucky Derby odds, although there had been some doubts over his ability over the race’s one-and-a-quarter-mile distance.
Those doubts were emphatically erased when Tiz the Law destroyed his rivals over that distance in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Racecourse in Saratoga Springs, New York. A 1/2 pre-race favorite, Tiz the Law crushed a field that included Kentucky Derby rivals to win by 5 ½ lengths for his sixth victory in seven starts.
The most notable of Tiz the Law’s defeated opponents in the Travers was Uncle Chuck – a leading Kentucky Derby contender priced at around 10/1 who set the pace at Saratoga only to be demolished by the victor on his way to a sixth-place finish.
The hype surrounding Tiz the Law’s Triple Crown hopes has subsequently continued to increase following his blowout in the Travers.
“We saw a performance today that just blows me away,” said Jack Knowlton, managing partner of Sackatoga Stable. “To do what he did today, we’re looking forward to going to Kentucky now.
“It’s quite an accomplishment for our little stable of New York-breds. We’re just thrilled to death. We’re the third New York bred to win this race, the first New York bred in 138 years to win the Belmont Stakes. It says to me that this accomplishment is something that is pretty spectacular.”
And so to the Kentucky Derby. If Tiz the Law successfully lives up to his pre-race odds, then he will be just one Preakness Stakes victory away from history.
Taking nothing away from Tiz the Law’s accomplishments so far in his pursuit of the Triple Crown, but his task has been made easier in the absence of two strong contenders, the Bob Baffert-trained pair Nadal and Charlatan.
Nadal led the Road to Kentucky Derby standings and was the top-ranked thoroughbred in North America before injury forced his retirement in May. Charlatan, meanwhile, missed the Belmont Stakes with an injury that will also rule him out of the Kentucky Derby.
Charlatan, who is currently serving a suspension after testing positive for a banned substance, is expected to return for the Preakness Stakes and could be Tiz the Law’s biggest obstacle in his hopes of landing the Triple Crown.
Tiz the Law’s team are not looking that far ahead yet, with the focus firmly fixed on the Kentucky Derby. “I don’t think we’ll change a whole lot,” trainer Barclay Tagg said after the
Travers Stakes victory. “We’ll give him 10 days of easiness and then get a few more breezes in him before we go out there. That’s about all we can do.”
Jockey Manny Franco will be the man responsible for steering Tiz the Law to Kentucky Derby, and potentially Triple Crown, victory, and he believes together they can achieve something special.
“He’s unbelievable and I’ve never been on a horse in my career like this one. I’m enjoying the moment,” Franco said. “Now, I’m more confident than before the race [that he can go a mile and a quarter at Kentucky Derby]. I know now he can go the distance, but he has to run the race.”
The hype is very real. Now it’s up to Tiz the Law to deliver on it. Check out how the odds for the race are at the moment: