by Jon White
February 5, 2020
Making amends for his defeat as a 3-5 favorite in his final start as a 2-year-old, Tiz the Law proved a punctual 13-10 favorite in Gulfstream Park’s Grade III Holy Bull Stakes last Saturday while making his 3-year-old debut.
Off his sparkling Holy Bull victory, Tiz the Law moves all the way up to the top spot on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 this week after being No. 7 last week.
The Holy Bull was Tiz the Law’s third victory in four career starts. The only time the Kentucky-bred Constitution colt has been beaten was when he had a troubled trip and finished third in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on a sloppy track last Nov. 30 at Churchill Downs. Tiz the Law won the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park last Oct. 5 prior to his setback in Louisville.
Also improving his position on the Top 10 this week is Thousand Words, who now is No. 2 after being No. 5 last week. He is three for three after taking Santa Anita’s Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes last Saturday in his first start as a 3-year-old. The Kentucky-bred colt won the Grade II Los Alamitos Futurity in his final start at 2.
Whereas Tiz the Law sold for $110,000 as a yearling, Thousand Words fetched a cool $1 million at public auction at that same age.
One thing Tiz the Law and Thousand Words do have in common is they both are in the hands of a trainer who has won the Kentucky Derby.
Barclay Tagg, Tiz the Law’s conditioner, won the 2003 Kentucky Derby with Funny Cide, a New York-bred owned by Sackatoga Stable. Tiz the Law also is a New York-bred who races for Sackatoga Stable.
Hall of Famer Bob Baffert trains Thousand Words, who is owned by Albaugh Family Stables and Spendthrift Farm. Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby five times and the Triple Crown twice.
Tiz the Law and Thousand Words each earned 10 points last Saturday toward a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby.
Max Player likewise collected 10 Kentucky Derby points last Saturday for his 3 1/4-length win in Aqueduct’s Grade III Withers Stakes. Linda Rice trains Max Player, a Kentucky-bred Honor Code colt.
Untitled drops off my Top 10 this week after finishing fourth as the 7-5 favorite in Gulfstream Park’s Grade III Swale Stakes last Saturday. It is true that Untitled experienced early adversity in the seven-furlong Swale. As noted in the Equibase chart, Untitled got bumped by Flash Pass at the break, then was ping-ponged between that one and the eventual winner, Mischevious Alex. But despite what happened to Untitled early, I expected to see a lot more run from him in the final quarter of a mile.
Mischevious Alex trounced his Swale foes. Since having blinkers added to his equipment, the Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt has won the Parx Juvenile by almost 10 lengths and Swale by seven lengths.
John Servis, like Tagg and Baffert, is a Kentucky Derby-winning trainer. Servis sent out Smarty Jones to win the 2004 Run for the Roses.
However, this year’s $3 million Kentucky Derby at 1 1/4 miles on May 2 does not appear to be in the plans for Mischevious Alex.
“Is he a mile-and-a-quarter horse? I don’t think so,” Servis said in Gulfstream’s Swale quotes.
Mischevious Alex probably will run next in Aqueduct’s Grade III Gotham Stakes at one mile on March 7, according to Servis.
As for Tiz the Law, indications immediately after the Holy Bull were that he probably would make his next start in the Grade II Louisiana Derby, a 1 3/16-mile event on March 21 in New Orleans at Fair Grounds Race Course. However, Tagg later told Daily Racing Form’s Mike Welsch that both the Louisiana Derby and Xpressbet.com Florida Derby are in play, with the latter race more likely. The Grade I Florida Derby will be run at 1 1/8 miles on March 28 at Gulfstream.
“Right now I’m probably leaning towards running him next in the Florida Derby,” Tagg said to Welsch. “Both races are in play, but he’s schooled at this track, he’s worked at this track, and he’s run well over this track, so we already know he likes it here.
“Nothing is etched in stone,” Tagg added, “but right now I think I’d prefer to stay here and take him right to the Florida Derby.”
As for Thousand Words, Baffert indicated Tuesday that colt might start next in Santa Anita’s Grade II San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on March 7. Also a San Felipe possibility, Baffert said, is Authentic, who is No. 7 on my Top 10.
A Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt, Authentic is two for two. He followed a 1 1/2-length maiden win at first asking Nov. 9 at Del Mar with a resounding victory in the Grade III Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 4. Authentic did not run a straight course in the final furlong of the Sham when racing greenly while far in front. He won by almost eight lengths.
“We don’t know how good he is,” Baffert said Tuesday when discussing Authentic on Steve Byk’s SiriusXM radio show At the Races.
Authentic, who might race with blinkers and/or earplugs next time out due to his actions during the stretch run of the Sham, worked five furlongs Wednesday in 1:01.20 at Santa Anita.
A 3-year-old heading to New Orleans from California is Anneau d’Or, who holds down the No. 10 position on my Top 10. He is targeting the Grade II Risen Star Stakes at 1 1/8 miles in that city on Feb. 15 for trainer Blaine Wright.
A Kentucky-bred Medaglia d’Oro colt, Anneau d’Or last year narrowly lost both the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when second to Storm the Court on Nov. 1 and Grade II Los Al Futurity when second to Thousand Words.
DRF’s Steve Andersen reported that Wright said Anneau d’Or will be racing with blinkers for the first time in the Risen Star.
Following the Risen Star, the plan is for Anneau d’Or to run in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 4.
Storm the Court, who is No. 3 on my Kentucky Derby Top 10, is scheduled to make his 2020 debut this Sunday in Santa Anita’s Grade II San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs.
Trained by Peter Eurton, Storm the Court has not competed since he won the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in a 45-1 shocker at Santa Anita last Nov. 1. The Kentucky-bred Court Vision colt was voted a 2019 Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male.
Dennis’ Moment stumbled badly at the start and finished eighth in the BC Juvenile as the 9-10 favorite. He had a sharp five-furlong workout in :58.47 last Sunday at Gulfstream for trainer Dale Romans.
A Kentucky-bred Tiznow colt, Dennis’ Moment is gearing up for his 2020 debut in Gulfstream’s Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 29. Albaugh Family Stables is the owner of Dennis’ Moment in addition to being co-owner of Thousand Words.
Nadal, No. 5 on my Top 10, worked five furlongs Tuesday in a crisp :47.80 at Santa Anita for Baffert. The Kentucky-bred Blame colt kicked off his racing career with an impressive 3 3/4-length win in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race Jan. 19 at Santa Anita. Nadal’s Beyer Speed Figure was a big 98.
Baffert said Tuesday no decision has yet been made regarding Nadal’s next start. While the trainer mentioned Oaklawn’s Grade III Southwest Stakes at one mile on Feb. 17 as an option, he said another possibility would be to wait longer for the colt’s next race.
No. 9 Independence Hall puts his undefeated record on the line this Saturday in Tampa Bay Downs’ Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. This race offers 17 points (10-4-2-1) to the first four finishers toward the Kentucky Derby.
Trained by Michael Trombetta, Independence Hall is three for three. Back on Nov. 3, Independence Hall annihilated his opposition and registered a 101 Beyer Speed Figure when he won Aqueduct’s Grade III Nashua Stakes by 12 1/4 lengths. He then took the Jerome Stakes by four lengths and was credited with an 83 Beyer at the Big A on Jan. 1.
Independence Hall, like Tiz the Law, is a Kentucky-bred Constitution colt.
According to the DRF’s Marty McGee, Independence Hall has been installed as the 6-5 morning-line favorite in the Davis. Among the seven taking on Independence Hall are Premier Star (3-1) and Ajaaweed (4-1).
Ajaaweed, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, has not raced since he finished second in Aqueduct’s Grade II Remsen Stakes on Dec. 7.
Premier Star, conditioned by Jorge Navarro, is two for two. In his most recent start, Premier Star rolled to a 5 1/2-length victory in a seven-furlong allowance/optional claiming contest at Gulfstream on Jan. 15.
Sole Volante could be dangerous in the Davis at a nice price. He’s 8-1 on the morning line. He won his first two races, both on turf, then finished third in Gulfstream’s Mucho Macho Man on dirt Jan. 4 for trainer Patrick Biancone.
Here is my current Kentucky Derby Top 10:
1. Tiz the Law
2. Thousand Words
3. Storm the Court
4. Dennis’ Moment
6. Honor A.P.
9. Independence Hall
10. Anneau d’Or
TRIPLE-DIGIT BEYER FOR TIZ THE LAW
Tiz the Law posted a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 100 in the Holy Bull. His previous best had been a 90.
Thousand Words was credited with a 92 Beyer in the Lewis to continue an improving pattern in that regard. After an 88 at first asking, he recorded a 91 when victorious in the Los Alamitos Futurity, followed by a career-best 92 last Saturday.
Max Player was credited with a career-best 86 Beyer Speed Figure for his Withers victory.
Tiz the Law and Thousand Words are on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 but Max Player is not. That’s why I’ve listed Beyer Speed Figures below for Holy Bull and Robert B. Lewis winners but not Withers winners.
Here are the Beyers recorded by Holy Bull winners going back to 1991, as far back as published by the DRF:
2020 Tiz the Law (100)
2019 Harvey Wallbanger (85)
2018 Audible (99)
2017 Irish War Cry (101)
2016 Mohaymen (95)
2015 Upstart (105)
2014 Cairo Prince (95)
2013 Itsmyluckyday (104)
2012 Algorithms (105)
2011 Dialed In (97)
2010 Winslow Homer (91)
2009 Saratoga Sinner (98)
2008 Hey Byrn (88)
2007 Nobiz Like Shobiz (99)
2006 Barbaro (95)
2005 Closing Argument (98)
2004 Second of June (111)
2003 Offlee Wild (99)
2002 Booklet (101)
2001 Radical Riley (90)
2000 Hal’s Hope (100)
1999 Grits ’n Hard Toast (100)
1998 Cape Town (101)
1997 Arthur L (107)
1996 Cobra King (107)
1995 Suave Prospect (100)
1994 Go for Gin (100)
1993 Pride of Burkaan (88)
1992 Waki Warrior (92)
1991 Shoot to Kill (99)
The Holy Bull was known as the Preview Stakes prior to 1996.
Here are the Beyer Speed Figures recorded by Robert B. Lewis winners going back to 1991:
2020 Thousand Words (92)
2019 Mucho Gusto (90)
2018 Lombo (86)
2017 Royal Mo (94)
2016 Mor Spirit (93)
2015 Dortmund (104)
2014 Candy Boy (96)
2013 Flashback (92)
2012 I’ll Have Another (96)
2011 Anthony’s Cross (91)
2010 Caracortado (98)*
2009 Pioneerof the Nile (98)*
2008 Crown of Thorns (94)*
2007 Great Hunter (101)
2006 Brother Derek (102)
2005 Declan’s Moon (97)
2004 St Averil (102)
2003 Domestic Dispute (103)
2002 Lambata Babe (105)
2001 Millennium Wind (99)
2000 The Deputy (103)
1999 General Challenge (95)
1998 Artax (109)
1997 Hello (97)
1996 Prince of Thieves (103)
1995 Larry the Legend (95)
1994 Wekiva Springs (97)
1993 Art of Living (91)
1992 Vying Victor (92)
1991 Mane Minister (93)
*Run on a synthetic surface
The Robert B. Lewis was known as the Santa Catalina Stakes prior to 2007.
BAFFERT’S LEWIS VICTORY A MILESTONE
When Thousand Words got the job done as a 3-5 favorite last Saturday, it was Baffert’s eighth win in the Lewis. Moreover, it was the white-haired trainer’s 3,000th career Thoroughbred victory.
Baffert has a lot more wins than that, though. As best as I can determine from the research I’ve done, Baffert also has a total of 978 Quarter Horse victories to his credit.
Thousand Words is a son of Pioneerof the Nile. Baffert also trained Pioneerof the Nile, who 10 years ago won the Lewis. Pioneerof the Nile would go on to sire American Pharoah, who swept the Triple Crown in 2015 for Baffert.
Speaking of American Pharoah, an offspring of his by the name of Royal Act was the runner-up in the Lewis at 18-1 when racing for the first time with blinkers and on dirt. Royal Act, who like Storm the Court is trained by Eurton, recorded a career-best 90 Beyer Speed Figure in the Lewis.
The Robert B. Lewis Stakes may be a Grade III race, but it is named in honor of a Grade I individual, as anyone fortunate enough to have known the man can attest. Lewis died of heart failure at the age of 81 on Feb. 17, 2006.
It was very meaningful to Baffert to have reached his 3,000th career Thoroughbred win last Saturday in a race named after Lewis.
Owners Bob and Beverly Lewis and Baffert came very close to a Triple Crown sweep in 1997 with Silver Charm. After Silver Charm won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, he finished second, three-quarters of a length behind Touch Gold, in the Belmont Stakes.
Bob and Beverly first met while attending the University of Oregon. Three months after they met, Bob took Beverly to Glendale, Calif., to meet his family. It was during that trip in 1946 that they decided to see what horse racing was like. They spent an afternoon at Santa Anita.
After the couple returned to the University of Oregon, they went to the races from time to time at Portland Meadows. Years later, when the Lewises decided to become Thoroughbred owners, they chose the University of Oregon’s green and yellow school colors for their silks.
Three days following Lewis’ death, Santa Anita honored him during a ceremony between races. After a video presentation, Baffert was one of several who eulogized Lewis. This was what Baffert said:
“I definitely remember the first day Bob Lewis walked up to me and introduced himself at Clockers’ Corner here at Santa Anita in 1991,” Baffert said. “I was just, myself, getting into the business then, those first few years. The sun shone down on me that day, as it has every day since I’ve been around Bob and, as Bob would say, his beloved Beverly.
“Bob, we had some great memories together. As you all know, probably one of our favorite horses was Silver Charm. And we never thought, from that day we met in 1991, that six years later, Bob and I and his son Jeff would be making that historic walk from the barn area at Churchill Downs to the paddock with Silver Charm. We looked like a couple of teenagers walking down through there.
“But through the years, one thing about Bob Lewis, what he’s taught me, I’ve learned so much. Not only was he a great client of mine, but he also was a very personal friend. Whenever I had any personal problems, I’ve always confided in Bob, and he was always there with the right answers. He taught me a lot in life. He taught me a little kindness goes a long way, never dwell on the past, and if he ever felt I was getting too big for my britches, he was the first one to crack the whip. He had a huge impact on my life, and on a lot of other people’s lives.
“…And every day, when I saddle a horse and walk from the paddock to my box, you always walk through the garden, and you see all these statues of these once-in-a-lifetime kind of guys, all these heroes we have in the garden. And one thing about Bob Lewis, he was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of guy. He was the kind of guy that does all of the right things in life. That’s what he was. He showed kindness, he was generous, he was a man of his word, and a man of honor. And that’s what he always brought to the table. And hopefully, one day, I’d like to saddle a horse, and then on my way to my box, see a statue of Bob Lewis in the garden.”