Tagg upbeat on Tiz The Law

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Authentic (right) holding off Tiz The Law to win the Kentucky Derby
Sep 5, 2020; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; Jockey John Velazquez aboard Authentic (18) wins the Kentucky Derby and Jockey Manuel Franco aboard Tiz The Law (17) on the outside finishes second during the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Barclay Tagg remains convinced the track was behind Tiz The Law’s surprise Kentucky Derby defeat and the trainer feels he’s at home in Keeneland ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The four-time Grade 1 winner could not overhaul Authentic in the ‘Run for the Roses’ back in September despite his valiant efforts in the home straight.

Both of Tiz The Law’s career defeats have come at Churchill Downs and the trainer says that the track, as opposed to a quick four-week turnaround from his Travers Stakes win, was the chief factor in his Kentucky Derby defeat.

“I don’t think he was tired,” Tagg said at Keeneland. “He didn’t like the track. He lost two races, and both of them were on the Louisville track. I don’t think I’m running him there again.

“As soon as the jock (Manny Franco) jumped off, he said, ‘He hated this track,'” Tagg said. “If I felt that way and he felt that way, that’s good enough for me. He beat 14 or 15 of the top three-year-olds in the Kentucky Derby. But he got beat in it, too. He did look like he was swimming coming down the stretch.”

With that defeat fresh in his memory, Tagg moved to convince his owners that Tiz The Law would be best served skipping a rematch with Authentic in the Preakness at Pimlico in early October and instead being trained for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 7th.

He admits that he had to do some swaying to get that call, but feels it was the right decision.

“It wasn’t tough for me,” he said. “It didn’t make the owners too happy, but they understood. He had time between every race until the Preakness came up. We didn’t want to run right back in the Preakness.”

Tiz The Law posted a Beyer Speed Figure of 109 in winning the Travers in August, the best for any three-year-old male this year in the US.

Authentic held him in the Derby, while Bob Baffert’s charge then suffered a similar fate himself when the filly Swiss Skydiver got his measure in the Preakness.

Dry, crisp weather is forecast all week at Keeneland and Tagg admits he’d hate to see rain falling on raceday.

Tiz The Law has been in Keeneland since mid-October and assistant trainer Heather Smullen, who has ridden Tiz The Law in the mornings since his arrival, says he’s now grown accustomed to his temporary home – a major positive.

“I’d say he’s pretty close [to his best],” Smullen said. “The more accustomed him he gets to a place – like he was at Saratoga — you saw toward the end of the meet how aggressive he was there. He’s getting that way here, and that’s a good sign.”

Tiz The Law is around a 4/1 chance to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday, with Authentic at 6/1 following his Preakness defeat.

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