Tiz the Law wins 2020 Belmont Stakes

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Barclay Tagg’s Tiz the Law has become the first New York-bred horse to win the Belmont Stakes since Forester in 1882. The heavy 6-5 morning line favorite broke from the No. 8 with jockey Manny Franco aboard in his first Triple Crown ride.

Tiz the Law settled in behind pace setter Tap It to Win before surging after the one and only turn of the shortened Belmont Stakes and running away with the win by 3 3/4-lengths. Todd Pletcher’s Dr Post was second, and Linda Rice campaigned third place finisher Max Player.

Tiz the Law went off at 4/5 odds and paid $3.60 to win, $2.90 to place and $2.60 to show. At 7-1 odds, Dr Post paid $5.80 to place and $4.20 to show, and Max Player paid $5.20 to show with 14-1 odds.

Franco said after the race that Tiz the Law was calm and relaxed throughout the race, which kept him confident in the irons.

The win, which comes in an unconventional year where a shortened Belmont Stakes comes first instead of last in the Triple Crown, was especially sweet for Tagg and Tiz the Law’s owners Sackatoga Stable. In 2003, the trainer and owner partnership campaigned Funny Cide, who fell just short of a Triple Crown by finishing 3rd in the Belmont Stakes after winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.

“They are completely different horses,” Tagg said, comparing Tiz the Law to Funny Cide. “‘Tiz’ is more malleable. Funny Cide was all run. You couldn’t hold him. He was a strong horse and very tough.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Triple Crown calendar, which usually goes Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes then Belmont Stakes, was scrambled. The Kentucky Derby was postponed from May 2 to Sept. 5, the Preakness Stakes jumped from May 16 to Oct. 3 and the Belmont was moved from June 6 to June 20. Not only is the order different, but so is the turnaround time between races.

The Belmont Stakes earned the name “Test of the Champion” for cementing Triple Crown winners and being the longest of the Triple Crown races at 1 1/2-miles (12 furlongs). The race was shortened to 1 1/8-miles (9 furlongs) “to properly account for the schedule adjustments to the Triple Crown series and overall calendar for 3-year-olds in training,” the New York Racing Association said in a statement.

Tiz the Law is a son of Constitution and a grandson of Tapit, who sired three previous Belmont Stakes winners (Tonalist in 2014, Frosted in 2016 and Tapwrit in 2017. In six career starts, Tiz the Law only has one loss. As a 3-year-old, he captured the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park in February and the Florida Derby (G1) in March at an eerily empty Gulfstream.

With a long gap before the next leg of the Triple Crown, one of the biggest struggles Tiz the Law faces is staying sound until the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby. Tagg said he is pointing the colt at the Aug. 8 Travers Stakes at Saratoga next.

Full Belmont Stakes 2020 finishing order: 

  1. Tiz the Law
  2. Dr Post
  3. Max Player
  4. Pneumatic
  5. Tap It to Win
  6. Sole Volante
  7. Modernist
  8. Farmington Road
  9. Fore Left

Appeals court strikes down federal horseracing rules act

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NEW ORLEANS — Congress unconstitutionally gave too much power to a nonprofit authority it created in 2020 to develop and enforce horseracing rules, a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled Friday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, or HISA, is “facially unconstitutional.”

The authority created by the act was meant to bring uniform policies and enforcement to horseracing amid doping scandals and racetrack horse deaths. But the 5th Circuit – in two rulings issued Friday – ruled in favor of opponents of the act in lawsuits brought by horseracing associations and state officials in Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia.

The Federal Trade Commission has the ultimate authority to approve or reject HISA regulations, but it can’t modify them. And the authority can reject proposed modifications.

Three 5th Circuit judges agreed with opponents of the act – including the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and similar groups in multiple states – that the setup gave too much power to the nongovernmental authority and too little to the FTC.

“A cardinal constitutional principle is that federal power can be wielded only by the federal government. Private entities may do so only if they are subordinate to an agency,” Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan wrote for the panel that ruled in the Texas case.

The same panel, which also included judges Carolyn Dineen King and Kurt Engelhardt, cited the Texas ruling in a separate order in favor of horseracing interests and regulators challenging HISA in a different case.

The chair of the horseracing authority’s board of directors said it would ask for further court review. Friday’s ruling could be appealed to the full 5th Circuit court of the Supreme Court.

“If today’s ruling were to stand, it would not go into effect until January 10, 2023 at the earliest,” Charles Scheeler said in an email. “We are focused on continuing our critical work to protect the safety and integrity of Thoroughbred racing, including the launch of HISA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program on January 1, 2023.”

The ruling was criticized by Marty Irby, executive director of the Animal Wellness Action organization. “Over the course of three Congresses, the most brilliant legal minds on Capitol Hill addressed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act’s constitutionality and ultimately decided that the Federal Trade Commission’s limited oversight was sufficient,” Irby said in an email.

Among the subjects covered by the authority’s rules and enforcement were jockey safety (including a national concussion protocol), the riding crop and how often riders can use it during a race, racetrack accreditation, and the reporting of training and veterinary records.

Animal rights groups, who supported the law, pointed to scandals in the industry involving medication and the treatment of horses.

Duncan wrote that in declaring HISA unconstitutional, “we do not question Congress’s judgment about problems in the horseracing industry. That political call falls outside our lane.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, hailed the ruling on Twitter, calling HISA a “federal takeover of Louisiana horse racing.”

Fractional interest in Flightline sells for $4.6 million

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Keeneland says a 2.5% fractional interest in Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Flightline has sold for $4.6 million during a special auction before the start of its November Breeding Stock Sale.

Brookdale Farm’s Freddy Seitz signed the ticket for an undisclosed client, the track announced in a release. The sale comes a day after ownership of the 4-year-old son of Tapit retired the unbeaten colt following his record 8\-length victory in Saturday’s $6 million, Grade 1 Classic at Keeneland. Flightline likely locked up Horse of the Year honors with his fourth Grade 1 victory in six starts by a combined victory margin of 71 lengths – dominance that has drawn comparisons to legendary Triple Crown champion Secretariat.

Flightline will begin his breeding career next year at Lane’s End Farms in Versailles, Kentucky, but a stud fee has yet to be determined. West Point Thoroughbreds, part of the bay colt’s ownership, offered the fractional interest. Seitz said the buyer wanted to “make a big splash” and get more involved in the business.

“With a special horse like (Flightline) all you can do is get involved and then just hope for the best,” Seitz said in the release.

“There has never been a horse that has done what he has done for however many years, back to Secretariat. You just have to pay up and get involved, and this is kind of what he’s thinking.”