by Johnny D
June 25, 2020
Tiz the Law won the Belmont Stakes Saturday like a good thing should. He comfortably stalked the early pace, moved up effortlessly, responded when asked in the lane and drew off to win decisively. He was much the best against a less than stellar bunch and there’s little reason to expect any of those foes to come close to the son of Constitution in the Travers Stakes—his next projected start. A serious challenge will need to come from someone else. A new face—maybe not unfamiliar to national racing fans, but one we didn’t see in Elmont, NY Saturday.
So, and we realize we’re getting way ahead of ourselves here, if Tiz the Law should capture the Travers and Kentucky Derby, to compliment his Belmont, would we then be looking at a qualified great horse? Perhaps. And we should begin pondering that possibility, too, because this colt keeps improving under trainer Barclay Tagg.
Right now, if you asked me (you didn’t, but I’m telling you anyway) if Tiz the Law can win the Travers and then both remaining pieces of the Triple Crown, I’d predict that the Preakness could be the colt’s Waterloo. Why? Because if he’s successful in the Travers and Kentucky Derby, both at a mile and one-quarter, he will be cutting back in distance for a third race in three months. That, plus meeting a compliment of fresh foes might prove too much for him to handle.
Certainly, Tiz the Law’s got the goods--the looks, the breeding, the talent, the temperament and the conditioner to win this season’s scrambled Triple Crown. However, when Travers is added to the mix…well, it feels as if something’s got to give. This asterisk-stamped Triple Crown will be spread out over several months instead of being crammed into five weeks. That ought to make it easier for a talented colt to sweep the series. No? Sufficient rest between each leg, isn’t that what revisionists have been crying for, forever?
Those that dare to dream even loftier for Tiz the Law—that he’ll sweep Belmont, Travers, Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Breeders’ Cup Classic are asking too much. But that’s what dreams are for. If that quintet were to be completed, we’d undoubtedly be in the presence of one of the sport’s all-time greats deserving of a ticker tape parade and a key to the city that never sleeps.
During the Triple Crown, it’s not always the horses that beat each other. More often than not it’s the schedule. Thoroughbreds are not race cars. Think flesh and blood, tendon and bone. At some point along the way, a perhaps inferior but fresh horse, maybe also enjoying an early or late pace advantage, can upset the apple cart and drench the parade. We’ve seen the winner of the first two legs of the Triple Crown fail in the third stanza far too often to ignore the effects of attrition. Funny Cide, owned by the same folks that pay for Tiz the Law’s meals, is a prime example.
Any way we look at it, this Triple Crownus-interruptus sophomore season will be worth watching. Nobody knows what will happen. That’s one reason we watch…to see what happens. Another reason we watch is in the hope of witnessing greatness. So far, Tiz the Law has hinted that the best is yet to come.
Churchill Downs Late Pick 4 Analysis–Saturday, June 27
8th Race—Grade 3--Bashford Manor Stakes—Six Furlongs—Two Year Olds
Off limited form—all starters have had just 1 race--#6 Cazadero appears to have these over the proverbial barrel. He powered home in a 5-furlong Churchill maiden event by more than 8 lengths in fast time. He drew a perfect outside post and hails from the barn of Churchill’s leading trainer Steve Asmussen. Go-to jock Santana returns in the saddle (note: he also won last out with Asmussen’s other entry #2 Hulen). This guy appears a single but Pick 4 players will have the advantage of evaluating current odds and various will pays to see where the money is headed before submitting tickets.
9th Race—Grade 2—Fleur De Lis Handicap—One Mile & One-Eighth--F & M Four & Up
#4 Serengeti Empress has one way to go and that’s to the front. She’s most dangerous when she can get lead early without pressure and that could be the case in here. She has a Gr. 1 win at this track and distance in the Kentucky Oaks, so she’s already proven she can do the job. A powerful win over a sloppy track in the Gr. 2 Azeri at Oaklawn was followed up by a poor effort in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom. Others in here with some early speed will be comfortable sitting just off whatever pace this filly dictates. Anyone that runs with her early will be toast. If she gets her way up front, she’s dangerous, especially when catching favored #5 Midnight Bisou off a trip to Saudi and a layoff.
#5 Midnight Bisou had an outstanding 2019 season, winning 7 of 8 starts. Her only defeat came in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff to the streaking Blue Prize. ‘Bisou’s lone 2020 start came in the inaugural running of the Group 1 Saudi Cup in February when she gave it all against Maximum Security, falling just three-quarters of a length short. This 5-year-old mare is incredibly honest but has just two third-place finishes in as many starts over the Churchill strip. That’s notable because those are 2 of only 3 occasions in 20 starts when she’s been worse than second. Perhaps Churchill is not her favorite surface? She’s clearly the one to beat, but she’s got a few blemishes and is at an extremely short price.
10th Race—Grade 2—Stephen Foster—One Mile & One-Eighth—Four & Upward
#5 Tom’s d’Etat returned from a layoff since October with a sharp Oaklawn Mile victory in April. He’s now won 3 in a row and 4 of his last 5. He loves this racetrack and distance. Plus, he has a solid run of 7 consecutive Beyer Speed Figures over 100 while only three of his foes have even cracked the 100 BSF once! He also won the Gr. 1 Clark here in November at this distance. Negatives include that he’s now 7-years-old and that he comes from off the pace. Still, he’s even money in here and, obviously, is the one to beat.
#6 By My Standards has prime second billing in here behind favored #5 Tom’s d’Etat. He’s won 3 in a row—2 at Fair Grounds and 1 at Oaklawn Park in his only starts at four. This guy is razor sharp and has every right to keep improving. Overall, he’s won 5 of his last 6 races, with the only defeat coming in a troubled Kentucky Derby trip. He’s 0 for 2, with a second, at Churchill but both of those came over sloppy tracks. He’s a sterling 3 for 3 at the distance. This guy also can lay close to whatever pace develops and he should get first run on the closers. That’s an advantage. No way a player can ignore favored #5 Tom’s d’Etat but there’s also no way to skip over this streaking colt.
#8 Owendale is another outstanding 4-year-old, but he’s a cult below #6 By My Standards. He’s got to come from well off the pace, so he needs pace help. He’s won 2 of 3 at the distance and has a first and second at Churchill, but has yet to crack the BSF century mark in 15 starts. He has 6 lifetime wins, including a trio of Gr. 3 triumphs. His decisive Gr. 1 Clark loss to Tom’s d’Etat and his late-running style relegate him to third choice in the wagering.
11th Race—Grade 3—Regret—One Mile & One-Eighth Turf—Fillies Three Year Olds
#1 Dominga, troubled in her last start, is a stakes winner at Fair Grounds. She starts for the red-hot Brad Cox stable and has won 3 of 6. She has the rail, but no early speed. She will have to save ground and find a way to rally through a crowded field. She has a win over the course and a bullet half-mile. She has to be respected.
#4 In Good Spirits has Beyer Speed Figures that have advanced in each start, a great sign. She’s won 2 of 4 and has speed, so she’ll probably be setting the pace riding the rail. The distance may be her biggest hurdle. Trainer Al Stall has been unlucky at the meet with just 3 wins and 9 seconds.
#5 Crystal Cliffs is the 3-1 race favorite. She’s earned the distinction with a solid allowance level win at this distance over this course last out. She’s now 2 for 3, including a win and a close third in France on her resume. John Velazquez returns for hot trainer Graham Motion. It’s notable that Johnny V. stays here over the Todd Pletcher-trained #9 Eve of War. Velazquez rides a great deal for Pletcher. Can’t ignore this one.
#6 Micheline hails from the ice-cold Mike Stidham barn--0-20 on the meet. She was a sharp stakes winner last out at Gulfstream and has won 3 of 8 starts. She has no speed, so she needs pace help she might not get in here.
#9 Eve of War had trouble last out in a Churchill stakes race. She had won 2 of 3 previous starts at Gulfstream. This is a step up for her. She’s got speed and can be expected to keep #4 In Good Spirits busy up front early. Florent Geroux replaces John Velazquez. At 12-1 she’s got something to prove, but she has a turf win at this distance this year.
#11 Witez has matched or improved Beyer Speed Figures in each race through 7 starts. Her most recent resulted in a close runner-up finish to favored #5 Crystal Cliffs in a first-level allowance race—less than 3 lengths back with some trouble. She’s won just 1 of 7, but she’s been in the money 5 times. She tries and is 12-1.
#13 Hendy Woods is unbeaten in two starts, both on turf at Fair Grounds—a slow maiden win and a much faster first-level allowance victory. She’s drawn terribly here in the #13 post, has a bit of speed she’ll need to use to save ground, but has much to prove on the class rise. Don’t love her but would hate to be knocked out by an unbeaten Mark Casse filly. Purely playing defense here.
Suggested $1.00 Late Pick Four Ticket ($24 Total)
Race 9--#4, #5
Race 10--#5, #6
Race 11--#1, #4, #5, #6, #11, #13
Take care of each other! Race On!