The Triple Crown season has officially started, it’s just a little backward this year. The Belmont Stakes was run Saturday in front of an empty grandstand at Belmont Park along with several other stakes races providing us with previews at what to expect this coming September at Churchill Downs.
152nd Belmont Stakes
The Belmont Stakes was shortened this year to a mile and one-eighth race rather than the traditional mile and half. This decision was made with the safety of the horses in mind. Due to COVID-19 shutting down so many racetracks across the country, many horses were left in the lurch with few prep races available to get them into the condition required for the marathon race that the Belmont historically is. In a season of so much cancellation and disappointment this year, it was nice to be able to see quality horses running for the title of something though, a great distraction from what is going on in the rest of the country.
TIZ THE LAW broke sharply and rated in third for the first half behind TAP IT TO WIN. FORE LEFT at 25-1 odds and JUNGLE RUNNER at 29-1 odds followed close behind. TAP IT TO WIN set an opening quarter of :23.11 and a :46.16 half. He kept a strong lead until the stretch when TIZ THE LAW made his move under jockey Manny Franco, coming from the outside and cruising to the win by three and three quarters lengths. DR. POST finished in second followed by MAX PLAYER in third. TIZ THE LAW completed the race with a final time of 1:46.53.
TIZ THE LAW is owned by Sakatoga Stables and trained by Barclay Tagg. It was the first Belmont win for Tagg, who has scored previous wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. For those who follow horse racing closely, Sakatago Stables might sound familiar. The partnership was a unique and eclectic group of friends who partnered in 2003 on FUNNY CIDE, arriving on a school bus to watch the horse run in the Kentucky Derby that year. This was also the first Triple Crown race win for Manny Franco. Finally, it was the first time in 138 years since a New York-bred horse won the Belmont Stakes. FORESTER was the winner way back in 1882.
$300,000 Acorn Stakes (G1)
GAMINE probably had more people talking about her online over the weekend than TIZ THE LAW despite him winning the Belmont. The filly posted early fractions under John Velazquez of :22:48 and :45.28. When she hit the stretch, she was ahead by nine and a half lengths and broke the 2002 record set by YOU with a time of 1:34.05.
The filly ran the fastest Acorn in history, finishing 18 and three-quarters lengths ahead of the rest of PLEASANT ORB in second and WATER WHITE in third. Her sights are now set on the Kentucky Oaks in September.
$250,000 Jaipur Stakes (G1T)
OLEKSANDRA went up against the boys on the turf at Belmont Saturday. Bumped by KANTHAKA she ran one and a half lengths off the pace. PURE SENSATION and HIDDEN SCROLL dueled for the leading setting fractions of :21.33 and :43.62. On the turn, the mare picked up momentum and went three-wide before angling off down the stretch. She moved into fourth with a furlong to go. TEXAS WEDGE stuck his head out in front, but she passed the three leaders in the closing eighth of a mile with a final time of 1:06.80. KANTHAKA finished second with TEXAS WEDGE following in third.