Tagg finally ends New York’s wait for Belmont winner

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Veteran trainer Barclay Tagg saw his runner Tiz The Law triumph in the Belmont Stakes and also rewarding loyal owners who have stuck by him and the New York breeding regimes.

Sent off the odds-on favorite to win the Belmont Stakes last weekend, Tiz The Law rarely had a moment of worry before coming home with a three-and-three-quarter-length victory under jockey Manuel Franco.

His victory was notable on several counts. The re-scheduled Belmont Stakes was run over the shorter trip of 1m1f, compared to the normal mile-and-a-half, while the recent Covid-19 pandemic meant that the Belmont was the first leg of the US Triple Crown for this year, as opposed to the last.

That honor usually falls to the Kentucky Derby (now fixed for September 5th) while the Preakness Stakes has been penciled in for early October in a much-changed 2020 fixture list.

Of course, if Tiz The Law can go on and win both those races, his connections aren’t likely to have any gloss removed from a Triple Crown by an unfamiliar running order.

Tagg, aged 82, was also notching his first Belmont Stakes winner after many years in the training ranks while, at the opposite end of the spectrum, rider Franco was taking Belmont glory at his very first attempt, aged just 24 and with a career in front of him.

Perhaps of more note than any of that however was the fact that Tiz The Law became the first New York-bred horse to win the Belmont Stakes since Forester in 1882.

He was bred by Twin Creeks Farm in Marcy and his owners are long-standing supporters of New York breeding farms.

Jack Knowlton, managing partner of owners Sackatoga Stable, said the victory was a payoff for their faith both in the trainer and in the New York breeding industry.

They aren’t big spenders by modern standards, but the owners were thrilled to score a notable success in the Long Island Classic.

“We buy New York-breds that’s our game and we don’t spend a lot of money,” confirmed Knowlton.

“We’ve been with Barclay Tagg for 25 years, and I keep telling everybody Barclay doesn’t get a lot of big horses, big opportunities, but when he does, he knows what to do.”

Tiz The Law has some time to wait for the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness to roll around in the autumn, but he has a trainer that does know what victory tastes like in those races.

For while this was Tagg’s maiden win in the Belmont, 17 years ago he saddled the hugely popular Funny Cide to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown. New Yorkers took the horse to their hearts but heavy rain the day before his Belmont Stakes bid, allied to him being too keen in the run, meant he finished only third.

Funny Cide too was New York-bred. It may have taken him the best part of two decades to do it, but Tagg finally ended the wait for a ‘home win’ in the Belmont Stakes when Tiz The Law prevailed.