Tiz the Law tops Belmont Stakes probables

Jun 11, 2020 Kellie Reilly/Brisnet.com

Normally we’d be discussing Belmont S. (G1) probables after the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1), but in this topsy-turvy world of COVID-19, the Triple Crown race order has been switched. The Belmont leapfrogs to the first in the series, on June 20, and now offers a bonanza of qualifying points for the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby – 150-60-30-15 to the top four.

Another key change is the trimming of the Belmont distance. Because it’s preceding the other two jewels of the Triple Crown, the 2020 Belmont will be contested at 1 1/8 miles, three-eighths of a mile shorter than usual. At the vast expanse of Belmont Park, that’s a one-turn race.

The changed conditions are no concern to the likely heavy favorite, Tiz the Law, who first burst onto the Derby radar by romping in the Oct. 5 Champagne (G1) around Belmont’s one-turn mile. The Barclay Tagg pupil has looked sensational in both starts at Gulfstream Park this season, drawing off in the Feb. 1 Holy Bull (G3) and March 28 Florida Derby (G1), and now tops the Derby leaderboard with 122 points.

Although Tiz the Law was always a top Belmont contender, he’s become the absolute one to beat after several high-profile defections. Nadal was retired, his Bob Baffert stablemate Charlatan was sidelined, and Maxfield was skipping it even before he sustained an injury knocking him off the Derby trail.

Should Tiz the Law prevail, his connections would have special reason to savor a Belmont victory. Sackatoga Stable is best known for campaigning Funny Cide, himself a Tagg trainee who starred in the 2003 Derby and Preakness but lost his Triple Crown bid in the Belmont.

Other Derby prep winners in the Belmont mix are Sam F. Davis (G3) hero and Tampa Bay Derby (G2) runner-up Sole Volante, who just won a Gulfstream allowance June 10; Modernist, successful in the second Risen Star (G2) division and last seen placing third in the Louisiana Derby (G2); and Max Player, unraced since his score in the Feb. 1 Withers (G3).

Trainer Todd Pletcher has two Belmont probables – Dr Post, winner of the April 25 Unbridled S. at Gulfstream in his stakes debut, and Oaklawn S. runner-up Farmington Road, most recently fourth in Nadal’s Arkansas Derby (G1) division.

Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen also has a pair under consideration in Hopeful (G1) hero Basin, second in Charlatan’s division of the Arkansas Derby, and Pneumatic, third to Maxfield in the Matt Winn (G3) in his first stakes attempt. The Saffie Joseph-trained Ny Traffic, second in both the Matt Winn and Louisiana Derby, had been entertaining the Belmont until reports that the July 18 Haskell (G1) was preferred.

The Belmont gained a contender in Tap It To Win, a commanding allowance winner in near track-record time for 1 1/16 miles on this circuit for Mark Casse. Not a Triple Crown nominee, the well-bred son of Tapit will be supplemented to the Belmont.

The 7-furlong Woody Stephens (G1) on the Belmont undercard is not a scoring race, but it does have Derby implications. Gotham (G3) victor Mischevious Alex is reportedly using the sprint as a prep for the Haskell, which is worth 100 Derby points to the winner.

Also coming up on Belmont Day are the Acorn (G1), a points race toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1); the Jaipur (G2), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1); the Pennine Ridge (G2) for turf sophomores; and the companion Wonder Again (G3) for 3-year-old fillies on turf.

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