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Tiz the Law looks like heaviest of favorites in Kentucky Derby

Updated August 13, 2020 - 6:18 pm

The Kentucky Derby picture is crystal clear: All paths to the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs run through Tiz the Law.

It’s rare to see a 3-year-old colt dominate his rivals to the degree that Tiz the Law has in four races this year, including last weekend’s Travers Stakes, the Belmont Stakes and the Florida Derby, all Grade 1s. None of his rivals has been closer at the finish in those races than three lengths.

For that reason, he figures to be one of the shortest-priced Derby favorites in years when the race is run Sept. 5.

If the colt wins the Derby and the Preakness Stakes almost a month later Oct. 3, he would not only become racing’s 14th Triple Crown winner but also would join Whirlaway as the only one to also capture the Travers Stakes. In Tiz the Law’s case, it all would come with a big asterisk because of the rescheduling of the series because of COVID-19, but it would still be a tremendous accomplishment.

Don’t get me wrong, there are other nice prospects headed for the Derby. That said, at this point, it’s not hard to envision the Barclay Tagg-trained Tiz the Law marching through the remaining 3-year-old races and into the Breeders’ Cup Classic for a showdown with top older horses such as Tom’s d’Etat, Maximum Security and By My Standards.

If Tagg can keep the Sackatoga Stable color-bearer at or near the level he’s at now, he would give those horses all the competition they would want.

Tiz the Law is by the hot sire Constitution out of the Tiz Now mare TizFiz. He breaks alertly out of the gate, has a high cruising speed that enables him to secure a perfect stalking position and is attuned to jockey Manny Franco’s cues. He delivers his knockout punch turning for home, kicking into another gear that immediately discourages his pursuers and then finishes strongly.

If he has a vulnerability, it might have been exposed last year when he suffered the only loss of his career when third in the Kentucky Jockey Club Cup Stakes (Grade 2) over a sloppy Churchill Downs track. He was trapped on the rail and visibly uncomfortable while racing in a tight spot in the stretch.

Since then, Franco has done everything possible to keep him off the rail and out of trouble, which has been all this classy colt has needed to get the job done.

So if you’re one of those players who is going to try to beat the heavy Derby favorite this year, an inside post position draw could be your biggest hope.

Of course, even “sure things” have been known to misfire. Remember that Honest Pleasure was beaten by Bold Forbes in the 1976 Derby at odds of 2-5.

#RJhorseracing featured races

The #RJhorseracing handicappers are at the Jersey Shore on Saturday for two challenging races from Monmouth Park, Race 9, a 1 1/16th-mile allowance race for fillies and mares 3 and up on the turf, and the final Derby prep of the season, the $150,000 Pegasus Stakes for 3-year-olds.

In the former, the handicapping crew is enamored of the 5-2 morning line chalk Passive Investing, making his first start for trainer Anthony Margotta after exiting Chad Brown’s string in New York. They see B B’s Busted (10-1) and Pure Rhythm (4-1) completing the placings in that order.

Passive Investing is a logical choice, but I’m going to back Flighty Almighty (8-1), who makes his second U.S. start for sensational turf trainer Christophe Clement and has had a few months of lessons since his first effort. I’ll use Passive Investing to place and O’Malley (8-1) to show.

In the Pegasus, the last chance for any of these 3-year-olds to get on the Triple Crown trail, the crowd ’cappers threw a curveball and are narrowly going with Arkaan (9-2), the fourth choice on the morning line, over Pneumatic (favored at 5-2). They see As Seen on TV (7-2) well back in third.

I’m going to flip their top two and go with Pneumatic, who ran a credible fourth behind Tiz the Law in the Belmont Stakes, over Arkaan. My long-shot play will be Super John (6-1), who has been developing nicely for John Servis.

Mike Brunker’s horse racing column appears Fridays. He can be reached at mbrunker@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4656. Follow @mike_brunker on Twitter.

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