LEXINGTON, Ky. – A Kentucky Derby delayed by more than four months didn’t deter 17 3-year-olds from tackling 3-5 morning line favorite TIZ THE LAW in Saturday’s Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. While a win the 1 ¼-mile Derby clearly ensures immortal status in the pantheons of the sport, 3-year-olds in general have a long and storied history of success in the $7 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, and will surely look to add to the leger Nov. 7 at Keeneland.
The Derby is the obvious highlight of an abbreviated five-day Churchill meet that also offers Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) and a showdown between superstar 3-year-old fillies Swiss Skydiver and Gamine, along with the “Win and You’re In” Iroquois (G3), which will award an automatic starting berth into the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1), and Thursday’s “Win and You’re In” Pocahontas (G3), which will offer an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
Sackatoga Stable’s Tiz the Law, who drew post 17, is the most likely 3-year-old to join a dozen others who have won the Classic in their sophomore season, with just American Pharoah (2015), Unbridled (1990) and Sunday Silence (1989) winning the Derby as well. The New York-bred son of Constitution has been dominant in a 4-for-4 campaign this year for trainer Barclay Tagg, including easy Grade 1 wins in the Belmont in June — the first leg of this year’s Triple Crown, Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in April, and Runhappy Travers at Saratoga Aug. 8. Tiz the Law, who is 6-for-7 lifetime, shipped to Louisville Tuesday morning and Derby success will send him to Pimlico as a heavy favorite to win the Triple Crown in the Oct. 3 “Win and You’re In”’ Preakness Stakes (G1). The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans in Baltimore is a newly-minted automatic qualifier for the Classic, which Sackatoga’s managing partner Jack Knowlton has long said is the year-end goal.
A Kentucky Derby in September figures to cater to the late-developing types, and C R K Stable’s HONOR A. P. (5-1, breaking from post 16) fits the bill and may be California’s best hope, as the son of Honor Code won the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in June for trainer John Shirreffs. Both Spendthrift Farm, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables, and Starlight Racing’s AUTHENTIC (8-1, post 18), who earned a berth into the Classic when he won Monmouth Park’s “Win and You’re In” Haskell (G1) July 18, and Albaugh Family Stables and Spendthrift Farm’s THOUSAND WORDS (15-1, post 10), who upset Honor A. P. in Del Mar’s Aug. 1 Shared Belief, will look to give trainer Bob Baffert a record-tying sixth Derby win.
The field for the 146th Kentucky Derby.
Photo: Tiz the Law after grazing. Credit: Coady Photography