The sun will come up tomorrow morning. I’m guessing this does not come as a surprise to you.
Nearly just as predictably, Tiz the Law is not running in the Grade I Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Oct. 3.
Consequently, Tiz the Law has exited my Preakness Top 10 this week. He ranked No. 2 last week, just below Authentic.
This means there will be no rematch in the Preakness between Authentic and Tiz the Law, who finished first and second, respectively, in the Grade I Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Sept. 5.
Tiz the Law reeled off four consecutive wins in his first four starts of 2020. He did so in emphatic fashion, winning those races from three to 5 1/2 lengths.
In Florida, Tiz the Law won the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes by three lengths at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 1, then the Grade I Florida Derby by 4 1/4 lengths at 1 1/8 miles on March 28.
Tiz the Law then trounced his foes in a pair of races in New York. He won the Grade I Belmont Stakes -- first leg of the Triple Crown -- by 3 3/4 lengths at 1 1/8 miles on June 20. That was followed by a 5 1/2-length victory in the Grade I Travers Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on Aug. 8.
But Tiz the Law’s winning streak was snapped when he finished second, 1 1/4 lengths behind Authentic, in the Kentucky Derby.
Both times Tiz the Law has raced in the Bluegrass State, his connections and fans have come away feeling blue. He’s zero for two at Churchill Downs, six for six elsewhere.
After two wins in New York at 2, Tiz the Law ventured to Louisville and finished third in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. Favored at 3-5, he had a troubled trip on a sloppy track and lost by three-quarters of a length.
Backed down to 7-10 favoritism in the Run for the Roses, Tiz the Law looked like a lock when he rolled up to take on Authentic turning into the stretch. But despite considerable skepticism concerning Authentic’s stamina in his first try at 1 1/4 miles, he came home better than the big favorite.
Not only did Tiz the Law get beat, he did not come out of the race as well as trainer Barclay Tagg and assistant trainer and exercise rider Robin Smullen had hoped. According to Smullen, the only two races that Tiz the Law did not come out of in fine fettle were the two he lost at Churchill.
Tiz the Law had four weeks between the Travers and Kentucky Derby. He’d had more time than that between all of his previous starts. By not running in the Preakness, he will get nine weeks between the Kentucky Derby and his first race vs. his elders in the Grade I, $7 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at 1 1/4 miles at Keeneland on Nov. 7.
“Since we have no shot at winning the Triple Crown, our big goal with this colt is of course the Breeders’ Cup with a fresh, happy horse,” Tagg said Tuesday in a Daily Racing Form story written by David Grening. “He came out of his last race a little stiff, no real physical problems, but a little stiffness. We’ve taken our time coming back with him. Now he seems just right.”
Grening reported that Tiz the Law galloped 1 1/2 miles on Belmont Park’s main track Tuesday morning.
“Tagg and Smullen agreed that it was the colt’s best day of training since the Kentucky Derby,” Grening wrote.
Tagg said that Tuesday “was the first really good day that we felt comfortable about him.” But without any workouts yet since Tiz the Law’s last race, “we’re going to skip the Preakness and concentrate on the Breeders’ Cup,” Tagg added.
According to Tagg, Tiz the Law might have a workout Saturday morning at Belmont.
Unlike Tiz the Law, Authentic bounced out of his Kentucky Derby triumph “very, very well,” according to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Because of the shuffling of the dates for this year’s Triple Crown series due to the coronavirus pandemic, there will be four weeks between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness rather than the usual two weeks.
Interestingly, Baffert said Authentic came out of the Kentucky Derby so well that he “would have been ready to go” even if the Preakness had been just two weeks later.
Authentic looked sharp when he worked five furlongs in a bullet :59.20 last Saturday at Churchill. It was the fastest of 38 works at the distance that morning. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.20, then went on out seven furlongs in an excellent 1:25.20.
“Authentic is a big, strong horse and is handling things very well since the Derby,” Baffert said.
When Authentic got the job done on Sept. 5, the Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt became Baffert’s record-tying sixth Kentucky Derby winner. Ben Jones also has six Kentucky Derby victories to his credit.
All five of Baffert’s Kentucky Derby winners prior to this year -- Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998, War Emblem in 2002, American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2015 -- were victorious in the Preakness.
Baffert and R. Wyndham Walden share the record for most Prreakness wins by a trainer. They have each won the race seven times.
Point Given in 2001 and Lookin At Lucky in 2010 were Baffert’s two other Preakness winners. Point Given ran fifth as the 9-5 favorite in the Kentucky Derby, the only time in his 13-race career he did not finish first or second. Lookin At Lucky ran sixth as the 6-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby when he got mugged early.
The way I see it, Authentic has an excellent chance to make it seven for seven for Baffert-trained Kentucky Derby winners in the Preakness.
I think the main threat to Authentic is Art Collector, who is four for four this year. He was not entered in the Kentucky Derby after nicking the bulb of his left front heel with a hind hoof while galloping at Churchill Downs five days before the race. According to trainer Tommy Drury Jr., the heel issue was nothing major, just bad timing.
Art Collector won Keeneland’s Grade II Blue Grass Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths at 1 1/8 miles on July 11. It was his first stakes victory. The Kentucky-bred Bernardini colt then won the 1 1/8-mile Ellis Park Derby by 3 1/4 lengths on Aug. 9.
Last Saturday, Art Collector worked five furlongs in :59.40 at Churchill. The only faster work at the distance was Authentic’s :59.20. Art Collector galloped out six furlongs in a splendid 1:11.60.
BloodHorse’s Bob Ehalt reported Tuesday that in a text message to him, trainer Ken McPeek said he is considering the Preakness or one of two stakes in October at Keeneland for the talented filly Swiss Skydiver.
On Wednesday, McPeek said he probably would wait until Monday morning before deciding whether or not to run Swiss Skydiver in the Preakness, according to Daily Racing Form’s Marty McGee.
McPeek said a scheduled workout Saturday at Churchill Downs would factor into his Preakness decision for Swiss Skydiver. The Kentucky-bred Daredevil filly worked four furlongs in :48.00 last Saturday at Churchill.
Entries will be taken and post positions drawn for the 145th Preakness on Monday.
Swiss Skydiver finished second to Art Collector in the Blue Grass, then won Saratoga’s Grade I Alabama Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths on Aug. 15. After that, Swiss Skydiver ran second to Shedaresthedevil in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks at Churchill on Sept. 4.
One of the two Keeneland races under consideration for Swiss Skydiver is the Grade I Spinster for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt Oct. 4. The other is the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the turf Oct. 10.
Here is my current Preakness Top 10:
2. Art Collector
3. Swiss Skydiver
5. Thousand Words
6. Ny Traffic
7. Mr. Big News
8. Max Player
9. Mystic Guide
10. Country Grammer
A CONTROVERSIAL PREAKNESS 40 YEARS AGO
The 1980 Preakness was, without question, one of the most controversial races in this country’s history. It’s famous for an incident between Codex and the filly Genuine Risk turning into the stretch.
Just before they straightened away in the stretch, Codex and jockey Angel Cordero Jr. had a narrow lead while racing to the inside of Genuine Risk. Jacinto Vasquez rode Genuine Risk. Two weeks earlier Vasquez and Genuine Risk had won the Kentucky Derby. Genuine Risk became only the second filly to ever win the Run for the Roses and first filly to do so since the Regret in 1915. (How great was Regret? She won the May 8 Kentucky Derby while making her first start since Aug. 22!)
In Richard Sowers’ book “The Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes,” he wrote the following of the 1980 Preakness incident turning for home when Codex already was racing wide:
“When Angel Cordero glanced over and saw Genuine Risk coming, he guided Codex even wider toward the center of the track. Vasquez had no choice but to take Genuine Risk even wider, momentarily checking his mount, then pointing her almost at the grandstand. Depending on the source, Codex never actually touched Genuine Risk, violently slammed into her, or lightly brushed her -- the most likely scenario. Regardless, the filly lost all momentum.
“Codex reached the furlong pole a length ahead of Genuine Risk with the rest of the field nowhere in sight, then coasted home 4 3/4 lengths in front.”
“Vasquez quickly filed a foul claim against Cordero, who was greeted by vociferous boos by the record crowd of 83,455 and by two agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation when he returned to the jockeys’ quarters. While those who bet on Genuine Risk no doubt would love to have seen Cordero arrested, the FBI agents actually were on hand to protect Cordero after the FBI had received threats that the jockey’s home was going to be bombed.
“The stewards disallowed the foul claim, and Genuine Risk’s owner, Diana Johnson Firestone, filed a formal complaint with the Maryland Racing Commission, which like the stewards, upheld Codex’s triumph.”
AN EXTRAORDINARY PERFORMANCE 50 YEARS AGO
Of the thousands and thousands of races I have witnessed in person, it was as sensational a burst of speed as I’ve ever seen.
It happened at Playfair Race Course, a cozy little track in Spokane, Wash. The horses do not race there anymore. The very last card there was on Dec. 17, 2000. An industrial park now is on that site.
Playfair was a five-eighths oval. As such, the far turn was much sharper and shorter than on a one-mile oval.
It was 50 years ago this Sunday that I saw a horse go so fast on that far turn it literally gave me goosebumps. Yes, it was half a century ago. But if I close my eyes, I can still vividly picture this particular race.
The race in question was the Washington State Breeders Handicap. It was a one-mile race restricted to Washington-breds. But what made the 1970 edition of this race so special it was Turbulator’s homecoming.
As a rising star, Turbulator had won the 1969 Washington State Breeders Handicap by 4 1/2 lengths while carrying 114 pounds. It was one of Turbulator’s seven straight victories -- from six furlongs to two miles -- at that 1969 Playfair meet.
When Turbulator returned to Playfair to run in the 1970 Washington State Breeders Handicap, he did so as a conquering hero.
At Yakima Meadows in the spring of 1970, Turbulator set a track record that would last for 23 years. At Longacres near Seattle during the summer of 1970, he not only broke a world record and a track record, he managed to turn countless doubters into diehard fans.
After Turbulator was retired from racing following his 1974 campaign at the age of 9, The Seattle Times’ Bob Schwarzmann wrote about him for the 1975 Longacres media guide.
Above Schwarzmann’s story, it said: “Bob Schwarzmann has covered Longares for The Seattle Times for the past 14 years. Like most Longacres regulars, Bob became an avid fan of Turbulator. He has pieced together some of the episodes of this local turf hero’s incredible career in the following story.”
Schwarzamann began his story this way:
“There were those enchanted evenings, that Longacres summer of 1970, when Chick O’Neall relaxed.
“The track announcer knew long before the week’s featured stakes race started, what his exact words would be as the field neared the quarter pole. So did the crowd. It was ritual.
“O’Neall blared out the names of the front-runners. The noise in the stands swelled. After he had positioned all of the contenders but one, the crescendo reached the full scream of delighted anticipation.
“In his best dramatic style -- it was needless information but Chick stuck to the script -- he would deliver: ‘…And here comes Turbulator.’
“Most times, O’Neall’s final call flip-flopped when the Thoroughbreds streaked under the wire. He led off the order of finish with: “Turbulator…”
“During that fiction-like summer, a leather-covered bundle of aches and pains grew to legendary status. The 5-year-old Washington-bred became the most popular horse ever to race in the Pacific Northwest.”
After Turbulator’s stellar 1970 campaign at Longacres, his return to Playfair for the Washington State Breeders Handicap was a huge deal.
“Wash. Breeders ’Cap at Playfair Headed by Fabulous Turbulator,” was the headline in the Daily Racing Form.
How often have you seen the word “fabulous” used to describe a horse in a DRF headline?
As expected, Turbulator was a heavy favorite, going off at 3-10. His nine opponents all had more money wagered on them to place or show than to win. It’s believed to be the first and only time that has ever happened at a track in that part of the country.
Turbulator had to pack a staggering 134 pounds (20 more than when he had won the same race a year earlier). His jockey was Larry Pierce.
Pierce was content to let Turbulator lope along in last place through the early stages. With four furlongs to go, Turbulator was still last, 20 lengths off the pacesetting Fosket. Not only that, Turbulator was eight lengths behind the next-to-last horse, Lora’s Pal.
Could Turbulator win from that far behind with four furlongs left to run while encumbered with so much weight on a track with a stretch run to the finish of just 704 feet? You bet he could…and did.
He blew past horses so fast on the far turn I thought he might cause a sonic boom. It’s a sight that I will never forget.
This was how track announcer Jim Price described the final four furlongs: “Fosket is in front by half a length, Knute K. is second, Feed King is third, then it’s Melmitch, followed by First Pop and I. Aylmer. And now, swinging to the outside, there he goes!
“Around the far turn, it’s Fosket in front by a length and a half. Feed King is second a head on the outside. Knute K. is third, Melmitch is fourth, and now Turbulator is sixth, he’s fifth, he’s fourth, he’s third, he’s second and going for the lead.
“They’re into the stretch. It’s Fosket in front by two lengths. Turbulator is flying on the outside! It’s Turbulator now in front, Fosket and Melmitch. Down to the wire, it’s Turbulator!”
With many, if not most, of the 7,257 racegoers on hand screaming until they became hoarse, Turbulator won going away by two lengths.
“When we were turning for home, I could really hear the crowd,” Pierce would tell me years later. “I’d never heard anything like it before.”
STARSHIP JUBILEE BEATS MALES IN WOODBINE MILE
The tremendous $16,000 claim Starship Jubilee came from two to three lengths off the early pace to win last Saturday’s Woodbine Mile by one length on the grass. It was the 19th victory from 38 career starts for the remarkable 7-year-old Florida-bred mare.
Owned by Blue Heaven Farm and trained by Kevin Attard, Starship Jubilee was claimed for $16,000 at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 4, 2017. Since then, Starship Jubilee has earned in excess of $2 million. She was the 2019 Canadian Horse of the Year.
This brings to mind another terrific recent claim. Vasilika was claimed for $40,000 at Santa Anita on Feb. 11, 2018. After that, Vasilika earned $1,722,320 before being retired after losing by a neck when second at age 5 in last year’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita.
After last year’s Breeders’ Cup, Vasilika sold for $1.5 million at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale.
ASMUSSEN REACHES 9,000 VICTORIES
When Troy Ounce was victorious in last Friday night’s second race at Remington Park, Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen achieved the significant feat of 9,000 career wins.
Through Tuesday, Asmussen had won 9,006 races, according to Equibase. The 54-year-old trainer ranks only behind the late Dale Baird’s 9,445 victories on Equibase’s all-time North American list.
Asmussen is 439 wins behind Baird. It is only a matter of time before Asmussen becomes the North America’s winningest trainer.
Asmussen has trained three Thoroughbreds who were voted Horse of the Year – Curlin (2007 and 2008), Rachel Alexandra (2009) and Gun Runner (2017).
RICARDO ON BRINK OF 13,000 WINS
The world’s winningest jockey, Brazilian icon Jorge Ricardo, is on the brink of a monumental milestone.
Ricardo is just one victory shy of 13,000. He almost certainly will get No. 13,000 in one of the 25 races he is scheduled to ride in Brazil from Friday through Monday.
And then next Wednesday, Ricardo will celebrate his 59th birthday.
America’s Russell Baze called it a career after he finished in a dead heat for second on Wahine Warrior in the 10th race at Golden Gate Fields on June 11, 2016. When Hall of Famer Baze retired, he did so as the world’s winningest jockey with 12,842 victories, according to Equibase.
Baze (whose father, Joe Baze, was a successful jockey who rode six winners in one day at Golden Gate on April 12, 1965) won his first official Thoroughbred race aboard Oregon Warrior in the sixth at Yakima Meadows on Oct. 28, 1974. I was there that day. I had started working for the Daily Racing Form that year.
Prior to Russell Baze’s retirement, he and Ricardo had alternated a number of times as the world’s leading jockey in career wins. Ricardo has held the No. 1 spot ever since he overtook Baze for the last time early in 2018.
Through Tuesday, Ricardo and Baze had won a mind-boggling 25,841 races combined.
BAFFERT-TRAINED PAIR STILL ATOP NTRA POLLS
As was the case last week, Pacific Classic winner Maximum Security is No. 1 in this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll, while Kentucky Derby victor Authentic is No. 1 in this week’s NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll.
Maximum Security heads a field of five entered in Saturday’s Grade I Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita. One of his opponents in the 1 1/8-mile affair is Improbable, also trained by Baffert.
Improbable is ranked No. 5 in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll. He goes into the Goodwood off back-to-back Grade I wins in the Hollywood Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 6 and Grade I Whitney Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 1.
It’s kinda weird that Authentic is ranked higher than Tiz the Law in the Top Three-Year-Old Poll, but Tiz the Law ranks higher than Authentic in the Top Thoroughbred Poll.
The Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll is below:
Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)
1. 349 Maximum Security (26)
2. 272 Vekoma (9)
3. 240 Tom’s d’Etat (3)
4. 209 Monomoy Girl
5. 193 Improbable
6. 159 By My Standards
7. 153 Midnight Bisou
8. 134 Tiz the Law
9. 122 Authentic
10. 85 Rushing Fall
The Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll is below:
Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)
1. 365 Authentic (23)
2. 357 Tiz the Law (15)
3. 272 Art Collector
4. 191 Honor A.P.
5. 161 Swiss Skydiver
6. 146 Thousand Words
7. 107 Shedaresthedevil
8. 90 Gamine
9. 83 Max Player
10. 74 King Guillermo