New York Based Owners of Tiz the Law Confident Headed Into the Kentucky Derby

By Pat Bailey | September 2, 2020

Tiz been a successful but unorthodox road to the Kentucky Derby for Tiz the Law and his Sackatoga Stables owners. On Saturday, the three-year-old colt will look to become just the third New York bred horse to win the Derby in the past 91 years. And, in case you have not heard, Tiz the Law has a lot in common with the last horse to do so, Funny Cide in 2003.

It’s been 17 years since Jack Knowlton has been in this position. Knowlton, Founder of Saratoga Springs’ based Sackatoga Stables, was the proud owner of Funny Cide when he captured the hearts of American winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2003. Back then it was a new, fun, and unexpected ride for Knowlton and his group of investors.

This year it’s different, they are expected to win.

“They’re all kinds of reasons to feel positive about him,” Knowlton said Sunday as he was getting ready to make the trip to Churchill Downs for the 146th Kentucky Derby (Saturday 7:00pm, NBC).

Just like he did in 2003 when he purchased Funny Cide, Knowlton took the advice of his trainer, Barclay Tagg, when deciding on paying $110,000 for Tiz the Law in 2018. However, leading up to the auction, which was held in Sackatoga Stables’ backyard of Saratoga Springs, the group of 34 had a budget of $100,000. But Tagg liked the horse and Knowlton and his investors did what they had to do to get him believing the extra $10,000 purchase price may pay off.

“You have to surround yourself with the right team,” Knowlton claims.

His current team consist of those 34 investors, Trainer Barclay Tagg, and Jockey Manny Franco who with over 1,000 career wins did not win his first Triple Crown race until June 20 this year when he rode Tiz the Law to victory in the Belmont Stakes, a race he won easily by almost four lengths.

But getting to the Kentucky Derby has been anything but simple. This year has been as unconventional as the sport as seen. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a major shift in scheduling and protocols. Traditionally the Kentucky Derby is the first weekend in May but this year it is the first weekend in September. And, instead of capping off the Triple Crown at Belmont Park, the Belmont Stakes become the first leg.

The change in schedule meant instead of a routinely six week layoff between the Florida Derby, a Grade 1 win by Tiz the Law, and the Kentucky Derby, this year it was an almost three month layoff before the his win in the Belmont Stakes.

In a traditional Triple Crown year horses would not run other races in-between the big three. But because the Derby was pushed to September, New York bred Tiz the Law was able to sneak in another race and run the Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga, the biggest race of the yearly meet known as the ‘Mid-Summer Derby’.

The dominate win showed Knowlton and his team something about the horse; he was ready for a longer distance race of 1 ¼ miles the same distance as the Kentucky Derby. It was the fist time Tiz the Law ran that distance and he did so with ease winning by almost six lengths.

“He’s ready,” Knowlton says with conviction.

And so too is Knowlton’s team. On Saturday 29 of the 34 investors will be at Churchill Downs, in person for the race. Much like other racetracks around the country, including Saratoga, trainers and owners will be allowed to witness the race live.

Back on August 5th officials in Kentucky laid out a plan to allow 23,000 fans for the race while shutting down the popular general admission party atmosphere in the infield. However, earlier this week all bets were off, and a decision was made to not allow any fans.

In a virtually empty Churchill Downs, the expected 17 horse field will enter the starting gate around 7:00pm eastern and Tiz the Law will attempt to take one more step toward the Triple Crown. He will be the heavy favorite with a likely even money bet line. If he can hold off the field and finish out the Run for the Roses, as it’s known, at Pimlico October 3rd, he would become just the second New York bred Triple Crown winner ever.

However, with $2 million in earnings in just two years after five graded stakes victories, Knowlton and his team have already won. “If he never ran another step on a racetrack, he would be a success,” Knowlton proudly claimed.

Pat Bailey is Host of the Dead Heat Podcast. The Dead Heat Podcast features interviews with news makers in the horse racing industry and includes racing selections with a focus on the summer meets at Belmont Park & Saratoga.

Year to Date selections for Saratoga include a 26% winner selection rate, 63% multiple horses picked in the money and a Return on Investment of +1.08

Listen to the Dead Heat Podcast for the full 15-minute interview with Jack Knowlton.

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