Lady and The Track | May 27, 2022

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Tiz The Law Tiz The One To Beat In Travers


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New York Bred Colt Is Even-Money Favorite

By Margaret Ransom

Tiz The Law. Photo: NYRA

Sackatoga Stable’s Tiz the Law, currently the overwhelming favorite for the Kentucky Derby (GI) in a month, will square off against seven others in this year’s 151st running of the $1 million Runhappy Travers Stakes (GI) on Saturday at Saratoga. The Barclay Tagg-trained son of Constitution is the even-money favorite for the 1 ¼-mile Midsummer Derby off his record of three graded stakes wins in 2020, including the Belmont Stakes (G1) last out.

Saratoga’s summer feature is the last major Road to the Derby qualifying race and awards the top-four finishers points to make the gate for the Kentucky Derby on a 100-40-20-10 schedule. Tiz The Law is the current points leader overall with 272 and is already a shoe-in for the Derby, but a placing for any of his rivals – some have points already and some are seeking their first – could mean the difference between an undercard race and the big event on the first Saturday in September.

Tiz the Law, who has won all but one of his six career starts (he was third in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last November) has won his last three races by a combined 11 lengths and enters the Travers in what his trainer says is so far the best shape of his career. He drew post position six and will have regular jockey Manny Franco aboard.

“I think he’s matured enough now that outside or inside is not going to bother him too much,” Tagg said. “I’d prefer that he’s on the outside just because you have less chance of getting in trouble. Not that you can’t, but you have less chance. I think post six is fine. Five would have been fine. Four would have been fine. Any of those three would have been fine with me.”

“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. We’ve been very fortunate. I don’t think any distance makes a difference for this horse. From what I’ve seen, I just don’t have any feeling that he can’t handle it. It would be nice to win it if we could. I’ve never seen him take a deep breath. I’ve never had him out of breath after a workout. I’ve never had him way out of breath after a race and he (cools) off very quickly. His lungs settle right down and nothing seems to be a hazard. I could be all wrong in that. It might change in another eighth of a mile, I don’t know, but I’ve got no reason to worry about it.”

Uncle Chuck. Photo: Benoit

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has previously saddled Travers winners West Coast, Arrogtae and Point Given ships in the lightly raced undefeated colt Uncle Chuck for his first stab at grade 1 company. The Pegram, Watson and Weitman colorbearer won the nine-furlong Los Alamitos Derby (GIII) on the Fourth of July and though entered and scratched out of last weekend’s Shared Belief Stakes at his Del Mar summer base, has had this race on his schedule as soon as his last race was declared official.

Luis Saez will be back aboard and the pair will break from post position three. He is the second choice on the morning line at 5-2.

“He’s quick,” Baffert said of Uncle Chuck. “He’s a big, tall horse but he’s really quick on his feet. He’s got a tremendous stride, that’s why I thought the mile and a quarter would suit him well. If you can win the Travers, it’s a big thing. But Tiz the Law looks unbelievable. I watched his last work and he looked tremendous, so Uncle Chuck will have to step it up. It should be a great race.

“He’s been training well, and I thought he deserves a chance to run (in the Travers). He’s only had two races, but they were pretty impressive. The talent is there, he’s just still figuring it out and putting it together.”

Max Player. Photo Chelsea Durand/NYRA

George Hall and Sportbix Thoroughbreds’ Max Player, third in the Belmont Stakes last out, drew post position four and will have Joel Rosario back in the irons. The Linda Rice-trained son of Honor Code won the Withers Stakes (GIII) and has already earned 40 points, which puts him 15th on the current Derby points leaders list. Though he makes his 10-furlong debut like the rest of the field, he has already run well at nine furlongs in his last two starts.

“He was closing ground at the end of the mile and an eighth in the Belmont, so I’m hoping the extra distance only works in his favor,” Rice said. “It would be great if we had an honest pace in this race, so it would set up better for a horse coming from off the pace.”

“For someone who has raced in New York year-round for quite some time now, the Travers is one of those races on your bucket list that you’d really like to win,” Rice, who will be represented by her second starter in the historical race, said. “It’s exciting to be in the race. It’s disappointing that we won’t have the crowds or the fanfare that goes with it, but I’d still be thrilled to win a race like the Travers.”

Country Grammer. Photo: Susie Raisher/NYRA

Paul Pompa Jr.’s Country Grammer, who won the Peter Pan Stakes (GIII) by a next last out, seeks to give leading trainer Chad Brown his first Travers win. The $450,000 son of Tonalist was fifth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (GII) in his sophomore debut in February at Gulfstream. He was then third in an allowance at Belmont Park before winning his first graded stakes last out three weeks ago.

According to Brown, Country Grammer is improving daily.

“He’s a May foal and he was always destined to fill out and get stronger as he goes along,” Brown said. “He’s looking for more ground. He’s going to have to step it up obviously on short rest and the fact that it’s a much tougher race. But the horse, physically, is doing everything you want him to do. We’re excited to participate and give him a shot.”

Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be back aboard and the colt will break from post position eight.

Global Thoroughbred and Top Racing’s Caracaro was second to Country Grammer in the Peter Pan and makes his grade 1 debut with his career record of a win and two seconds from three starts. The Uncle Mo colt is trained by Gustavo Delgado and will be ridden by Javier Castellano, who has ridden a record six Travers victories, from post position seven.

Jacks or Better Farm’s stakes winner Shivaree was second behind Tiz the Law in the Florida Derby in late March and returns to action off a very dismal 11th-place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes (GII) at Keeneland last month. The son of Awesome of Course is trained by Ralph Nicks and Junior Alvarado will be aboard for the first time. He drew post position five.

South Bend, was second in the Ohio Derby (GIII) in his most recent start last month and starts for the first time for Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Peter Deutsch after being privately purchased. Hall of Famer Bill Mott trains the son of Algorithms who drew the outside and will be ridden by Jose Ortiz.

Noda Brothers’ First Line makes his stakes debut after breaking his maiden over the Saratoga main track at nine furlongs a week ago. Co-owner Orlando Noda trains the gelded son of First Samurai, who will carry David Cohen from the innermost post position.

The Travers is the day’s 11th race with a post time of approximately 6:15 p.m. ET. FOX will have live coverage from 5-6:30 p.m.