Home Sports A Tiz the Law Triple Crown would get an asterisk

A Tiz the Law Triple Crown would get an asterisk

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Heading into Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, Tiz the Law is drawing comparisons to some of the best 3-year-olds in horse racing’s recent memory.

But even if the heavy favorite from Sackatoga Stables wins the second leg of the Triple Crown and finishes it off next month at the Preakness, his entry into the record books may come with a catch because of the pandemic-related changes made to the sport’s biggest feat.

“Yeah, it’s gonna have an asterisk,” Hall of Fame jockey and NBC Sports analyst Jerry Bailey said Tuesday on a conference call. “First, if Tiz the Law wins all three and wins the Triple Crown, it’s a hell of an accomplishment. Take nothing away from him, he’s a good horse and that would be noteworthy, to say the least. However, just because of the fact the Belmont was not a mile and a half, and it was run at a mile and an eighth, yes, there has to be an asterisk.”

Like almost everything else in 2020, COVID-19 turned horse racing and its traditional schedule on its head. Instead of having the three legs of the Triple Crown stretched across five weeks in the spring — beginning with the Kentucky Derby, which was originally scheduled for May 2 — the Belmont Stakes came first in June and the Preakness will come last in October.

Because of other races being canceled in the run up to the Belmont Stakes, Tiz the Law didn’t face the usual grueling challenge at 1 ½ miles in New York that other champions have.

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“Is it fair? Probably not,” NBC Sports analyst Randy Moss said of the impending asterisk. “Let’s assume he sweeps the Triple Crown — the horse has done everything that’s been asked of him. And, oh by the way, he won the Travers Stakes in between the Belmont and the Derby, so it’s almost like a quadruple crown. And could he go a mile and a half, if he was asked, against these horses? Probably so. But it’s just unfortunate for the horse that he’s going to have a COVID asterisk if he sweeps the Triple Crown. It’s inevitable.”

Tuesday, Tiz the Law drew the No. 17 post position with 3-5 morning-line odds. His toughest competition figures to be on either side of him out of the gates, with Honor A.P. at 5-1 from No. 16, with Hall of Famer Mike Smith up, and Bob Baffert’s Authentic at 8-1 from No. 18.

Those horses, which did not run in the Belmont Stakes, could make the asterisk debate moot by Saturday night. But Tiz the Law, trained by Barclay Tagg and ridden by Manny Franco, has stayed sharp since winning the Belmont Stakes by 3 ³/₄ lengths, as he dominated the Travers Stakes on Aug. 8 winning by 5 ½ lengths.

“I can tell you this, watching Tiz the Law win the Travers Stakes, to me, was reminiscent of some of [2015 Triple Crown winner] American Pharoah’s best races,” Moss said. “When you think back on American Pharoah and the Haskell after he swept the Triple Crown, he gave you that quick burst of acceleration to just break a race wide open. He gave you that wow factor and then he just completely eased up the last part of the race and won with something left. That’s exactly what Tiz the Law did in the Travers. And his Belmont Stakes was pretty darn good too. So I think he’s a very special horse.”

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