NEW YORK, United States (AFP) – Tiz the Law was made a 6-5 favourite and drawn into the eighth post for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, the first leg of a 2020 coronavirus-disrupted US horse racing Triple Crown.
The 152nd running of the Belmont Park classic, trimmed from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/8 miles and delayed two weeks due to the deadly virus outbreak, is the opening jewel in US flat racing’s epic treble for the first time ever.
The pandemic has forced the Kentucky Derby, the usual Triple Crown opener at Churchill Downs in Louisville, from the first Saturday in May to September 5 while the Preakness — normally two weeks after the Derby — is set for October 3 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Tiz the Law, with four wins in five starts, is the only Grade 1 event winner in the 10-horse field off his March 28 victory at the Florida Derby and triumph last October at Belmont in the Champagne Stakes.
Trained by 82-year-old Barclay Tagg with Manuel Franco aboard, the colt leaves from a gate that has produced only five winners in Belmont history.
“It could have been worse,” Tagg said. “I was hoping to get five or six.”
There will be no spectators at Saturday’s race. Also missing are a trio of three-year-old thoroughbreds who had plenty of attention before injuries — Bob Baffert-trained Nadal and Charlatan plus Maxfield.
Sole Volante, leaving out of the second gate, is second among the oddsmakers’ darlings at 9-2 with Dr Post, third among favorites at 5-1, starts just outside Tiz the Law.
Tap It To Win, starting on the inside, is priced at 6-1.
Tagg is hoping to get the Belmont victory he couldn’t pull off in 2003 with Funny Cide, which won the Derby and Preakness but couldn’t close out a Triple Crown sweep.
“He does everything you ask him to. He is very happy and content,” Tagg said of Tiz the Law. “He likes this track so I’m glad to be back here.”
Linda Rice could become the first woman to train a Belmont Stakes winner with 15-1 shot Max Player. He will exit the third gate under jockey Joel Rosario, who won last year’s Belmont aboard Sir Winston.
The longshots in the field are 30