Travers Odds: Tiz the Law Even-Money Favorite in 8-Horse Field
By Richard Rosenblatt
Tiz the Law is back at Saratoga Race Course as the even-money favorite for Saturday’s $1 million Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1), which comes exactly one year after the leading Kentucky Derby (G1) contender began his racing career.
And what a year on the racetrack it’s been for Sackatoga Stables’ Tiz the Law, with Barclay Tagg training and Manny Franco riding.
On Aug. 8, 2019, the 2-year-old son of Constitution was sent off as the 7-2 second choice at 6 ½ furlongs in the fifth race at the Spa, and eventually pulled away to a comfortable 4 ¼-length victory under Junior Alvarado in the race for New York breds.
Tiz the Law has gone on to fame and fortune under Tagg’s guidance, and the switch to Franco. Now a Champagne, Florida Derby and Belmont Stakes winner, Tiz the Law is the star attraction in a field of eight 3-year-olds entered Wednesday for the 1 1/4-mile Travers.
Tiz the Law will leave from the No. 6 post. Uncle Chuck, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, is the 5-2 second choice, with Country Grammer and Max Player each 6-1, Caracaro 10-1, South Bend 15-1, First Line and Shivaree each 30-1.
“I think he’s matured enough now that outside or inside is not going to bother him too much,” Tagg said after the draw. “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 6 is fine. Five would have been fine. Four would have been fine. Any of those three would have been fine with me.”
The 151st Travers is being run three weeks earlier than usual due to the coronavirus pandemic, and serves as a Derby-points qualifying race with 100-40-20-10 points for the first four finishers. While Tiz the Law tops the leaderboard with 272 points, Uncle Chuck, among others, are desperate for points; others not so much.
Uncle Chuck, 2-for-2, is 22nd on the leaderboard with 20 points; Caracaro is 25th with 20 points, and South Bend is 28th with 8 points. Several others could use a strong effort to secure a Derby spot: Country Grammer is 11th with 50 points; Shivaree is 14th with 40 points; and Max Player is 15th with 40 points.
The Travers is race 11 (post time 6:15 p.m. ET) on a 12-race card that includes the $300,000 Longines Test (G1) for 3-year-old fillies; $300,000 Ballerina (G1), a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint; the $200,000 Troy (G3) for 4-year-olds and up on turf; and the $150,000 Waya (G3) for older fillies and mares on turf.
FOX Sports will have live coverage from 5-6:30 p.m.
Since that first race, Tiz the Law has won the Champagne (G1) and finished third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) to complete his 2-year-old season, and has reeled off victories in the Holy Bull (G3), Florida Derby (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1).
The 1 ¼-mile distance shouldn’t be a problem, either. The Kentucky Derby (G1), traditionally run on the first Saturday in May, is usually the first time 3-year-olds run 1 ¼ miles. The Derby is Sept. 5, so this should be a nice barometer for these Derby prospects.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. We’ve been very fortunate,” Tagg said of Tiz the Law. “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.”
Uncle Chuck arrives from Del Mar, and Baffert figures a strong effort could give him another Derby contender along with Authentic and Thousand Words.
“He’s quick,” Baffert said. “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.”
Max Player, trained by Linda Rice, was third in the Belmont and has a win in the Withers (G3) back in February. Country Grammer, trained by Chad Brown, is coming off a victory in the Peter Pan (G3) last month.
After his most recent work, Brown said the colt’s work “went super. He’s not a great work horse but for him it was one of the better works I’ve seen. He’s gotten a lot stronger.”
Travers Stakes Odds
|1||First Line||Orlando Noda||Jose Ortiz||30-1|
|2||Country Grammer||Chad Brown||Irad Ortiz||6-1|
|3||Uncle Chuck||Bob Baffert||Luis Saez||5-2|
|4||Max Player||Linda Rice||Joel Rosario||6-1|
|5||Shivaree||Ralph Nicks||John Velazquez||30-1|
|6||Tiz the Law||Barclay Tagg||Manny Franco||1-1|
|7||Caracaro||Gustavo Delgado||Javier Castellano||10-1|
|8||South Bend||Stanley Hough||Rafael Bejarano||15-1|