NY-bred Tiz the Law wins barren Belmont Stakes

NY-bred Tiz the Law wins barren Belmont Stakes

  • Tiz the Law (8), with jockey Manny Franco up, crosses the finish line to win the152nd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 20, 2020, in Elmont, N.Y.

    Tiz the Law (8), with jockey Manny Franco up, crosses the finish line to win the152nd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 20, 2020, in Elmont, N.Y. Associated Press

  • Tiz the Law (8), with jockey Manny Franco up, crosses the finish line ahead of Dr Post (9), with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. up, and Max Player (3), with jockey Joel Rosario up, in front of an empty grandstand to win the152nd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 20, 2020, in Elmont, N.Y.

    Tiz the Law (8), with jockey Manny Franco up, crosses the finish line ahead of Dr Post (9), with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. up, and Max Player (3), with jockey Joel Rosario up, in front of an empty grandstand to win the152nd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 20, 2020, in Elmont, N.Y. Associated Press

  • Jockey Manny Franco holds up the August Belmont trophy after riding Tiz the Law to win the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 20, 2020, in Elmont, N.Y.

    Jockey Manny Franco holds up the August Belmont trophy after riding Tiz the Law to win the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 20, 2020, in Elmont, N.Y. Associated Press

 
By Jake Seiner
AP Sports Writer
Updated 6/20/2020 8:18 PM

NEW YORK -- Eerily empty grandstands. Masked jockeys. Shuttered betting windows.

For Tiz the Law trainer Barclay Tagg, no finer way to round out a career Triple Crown.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I'm not trying to be a jerk about it," the 82-year-old said. "But I thought the quiet, to me, was very nice."

Everything was strange about this Belmont Stakes, except the winner.

Heavily favored Tiz the Law won an unprecedented Belmont, claiming victory Saturday at the first race of a rejiggered Triple Crown schedule that barred fans because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 3-year-old colt from upstate New York charged to the lead turning for home and now can set his sights on the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby and Oct. 3 Preakness. All three legs of this year's Triple Crown schedule were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Belmont, usually the series capper, was initially scheduled for June 6.

Tiz the Law gave New York a hometown champion in its first major sporting event since the coronavirus pandemic seized the area. He's the first New York-bred horse to win the Belmont since Forester in 1882.

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"It's a lot smaller crowd, that's for sure," said owner Jack Knowlton, who watched from a restaurant patio in the familiar surroundings of Saratoga Springs.

The 4-5 favorite won by 3¾ lengths, covering the 1⅛ miles in 1:46.53. Dr Post finished second and Max Player was third.

The race was shortened from the usual 1 ½-mile standard to account for competitors' unusual training schedules. Horses kicked off from a starting gate placed atop the backstretch, rather than in front of the grandstands.

In most every way, this Belmont States was unlike any of the 151 that preceded it. The Long Island track can pack in nearly 100,000, but this race had about 100 on hand, including jockeys, media and park staff.

Masks were mandated for all but the horses -- even the jockeys wore face coverings.

Closed to the public since March, Belmont Park hardly resembled the summer soiree New Yorkers are used to. Betting windows and gift shops were closed, not a single boozy Belmont Breeze to sip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Foot traffic was so slow that a few weeds over a foot tall had sprouted up between bricks paving the trackside pavilion.

Silence at the 115-year-old venue was broken when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued the traditional "riders, up!" call remotely via video. Longtime bugler Sam Grossman pulled down his face mask to tap out "Call to the Post," and horses strolled onto the track to a recording of Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York." A PA announcer introduced them to empty grandstands.

Signs outside the locked down venue instructed gamblers that if they wanted to wager on this Belmont Stakes, their best bet was to download an app and do it on their phones.

Perhaps a welcome harbinger for Tap It to Win, who led out of the gates and seemed poised to give trainer Mark Casse a third straight Triple Crown race victory.

Instead, Tiz the Law powered past him on the outside and cruised to victory.

"Everything just went like clockwork," Tagg said.

Knowlton, from New York's Sackatoga Stable, noted this race was a little different from 17 years ago, when the Sackatoga crew took a school bus to watch their colt Funny Cide try to wrap a Triple Crown sweep at Belmont Park. Funny Cide finished third that day.

It was also a breakthrough win for Tagg, who completed a career Triple Crown after also training Funny Cide.

"It's tremendous," Knowlton said. "We just buy New York-breds, that's our game. We don't spend a lot of money. We've been with Barclay Tagg for 25 years. I keep telling everybody Barclay doesn't get a lot of big horses and big opportunities, but when he gets them he knows what to do."

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