By Dick Jerardi
The last year a New York bred won a Triple Crown race, a Pennsylvania bred won two the following year. That would be Funny Cide in 2003 followed by Smarty Jones in 2004. Each won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
After New York bred Tiz the Law dominated the Belmont Stakes, maybe we can look forward to a Pennsylvania bred winning a Triple Crown race or two or three in 2021.
That is for then. For now, Tiz the Law is the horse alive for a Triple Crown that will play out over 15 weeks in this bizarre year where just about everything has changed. The Belmont was first, followed by the Derby in September and Preakness in October. It will be different, but the horses are running everywhere again and this is a very good thing.
Tiz the Law’s trainer Barclay Tagg grew up in Abington. He is a Penn State graduate. Won his first race at old Liberty Bell Park in 1972. Has never had a big stable as evidenced by his never winning as many as 100 races or having as many as 500 starters in any one year.
Tagg is your classic old-school grinder who typically trains anywhere from 20 to 25 horses at a time. He has had very few opportunities to train horses for owners with deep pockets. Tiz the Law cost just $110,000 when he was purchased as a yearling in 2018.
Tiz the Law is now 5-for-6 lifetime and really should be 6-for-6. Whatever could go wrong did go wrong last November in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. Still, the colt finished third, beaten by just three-quarters of a length.
Now a winner of four stakes, including three Grade I stakes, Tiz the Law is clearly the most accomplished 3-year-old in the country. The Aug. 8 Travers at Saratoga likely will be next. So the midsummer Derby in 2020 is a prep for the actual Derby in September, yet another strange occurrence in a year filled with them.
Tiz the Law was the only Grade I winner in this Belmont, run at a mile and an eighth instead of the normal mile and a half. The competition will be much tougher in September as several trainers with top 3-year-olds passed on the Belmont because they are pointing specifically for the Derby. Other late-developing 3-year-olds could also be a factor by September.
Parx-based Mischevious Alex finished fourth of five in the Grade I Woody Stephens Stakes, the second race on the Belmont Stakes Day card. The Parx Juvenile, Swale and Gotham winner just did not have the same punch he had in those races.
It had been 100 days since the colt’s last race. When the
New York schedule finally came out, trainer John Servis said: “then I really started bearing down on him. I don’t know if I really needed to. He had a pretty good bottom in him.’’
So, Servis said, he is just going to put a line through the race.
“Right now, I’m probably going to go in the (July 18)
Haskell,’’ Servis said. “I don’t know where else to go. I want to try him two turns, I really do. If he doesn’t run any good, then we’ll regroup and go from there.’’
If Mischevious Alex does run well in the Haskell, the colt will have more than enough points to get into the Derby. Stay tuned.
By Dick Jerardi
Kendrick Carmouche is a born storyteller. After 3,257 wins from 19,385 rides over 20 years, the Parx Hall of Fame jockey has some stories to tell.
He has not ridden since March 15 at Aqueduct. He runs and then bikes a few miles near his Delaware home most days, but misses the action of the track.
“I miss it because this is what I do,’’ Carmouche said. “It’s good to spend time with the wife and kids, enjoy their presence while we can because this is a critical situation right now. But I love riding. I could go ride any day. I miss it so much.’’
He misses his time at Aqueduct. He also misses his Mondays and Tuesdays riding at Parx, the track that will always be his favorite.
This weekend, the first weekend in May when we all should be watching the Kentucky Derby, Carmouche will be in Hot Springs, Arkansas., 388 miles from where he grew up in Arnaudville, Louisiana (population, 1,000).
He will be riding Ice Princess for trainer Danny Gargan in a stakes race Friday at Oaklawn Park. He will stay around Saturday to ride Tax for Gargan in the Oaklawn Handicap and longshot Mo Mosa for trainer Mike Maker in the first division of the Arkansas Derby, the closing day of the meet.
It will also bring Carmouche full circle to 2006 when he rode the entire Oaklawn meet, the last time he was at the track.
“I love Arkansas,’’ he said. “It’s like home for me. It’s close to Louisiana, feels like home. The people treat you good. It’s the feeling of being in the country.’’
He is driving to Arkansas, leaving Tuesday, with a planned Thursday arrival. Just the thought of being back in Arkansas brought back wonderful memories from his first year riding in Louisiana at Delta Downs and Evangeline Downs as a 17-year-old, 10-pound apprentice.
Carmouche took 21 rides to win his first race at Delta and then another 40 to win his second at Evangeline in Lafayette, 23 miles from his hometown. He will never forget that second win.
“Let me tell you a story,’’ Carmouche insisted. “I had been getting on this horse, galloping this horse, working this horse, Just Super. I’ll never forget his name.
“I tell my brother, `please, bet this horse.’ I was the 7 horse, I’ll never forget that. This horse went off at 75-1. I told my oldest brother, please bet this horse. I had another buddy that always looked out for me (and always bets on my horses).’’
The brother got to the track too late. The buddy did not. Just Super was, in fact, the 7 horse and just as Carmouche remembered, a chestnut. It was May, 29, 2000, closing on 20 years now. The horse may have been 75-1 when Carmouche came onto the track. After his friend was finished betting, the horse was 57-1.
Just Super won by a nose, 4 1/2 furlongs in 53.80. The friend shared some of the loot.
“Before I left Louisiana to go to Texas to ride, my teddy bear was full of money,’’ Carmouche said.