The popular view of Tiz the Law did not change with his victory Saturday in the Travers Stakes. In fact, his odds to win next month’s Kentucky Derby were cut to as short as odds-on.
But the skeptical view of Tiz the Law was not drowned out by his 5½-length valedictory at Saratoga Race Course. The argument may still be made that he has not faced any tough competition yet.
Uncle Chuck was supposed to provide it. Five-time Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert flew him out from California to put the Belmont Stakes winner in his place. Instead, the lightly raced colt’s nervy stare-down of Tiz the Law ended with him flinching before they got to the top of the stretch.
Now Tiz the Law is 2-1 at Nevada futures (+215 at Circa Sports, +200 at William Hill). He is 11-10 in Europe, according to Oddschecker.com. Globally he is as short as 5-6. And Uncle Chuck? He went from a best-priced 7-1 to now as long as 30-1.
So how good — or not so good — are the horses that Tiz the Law has left in his 16½ lengths of wake from four victories this year? Look at the horses that finished second:
After losing in the Holy Bull, Ete Indien won the Fountain of Youth but missed in his next two before suffering a training setback in June. Shivaree overachieved in the Florida Derby, and he was a last-place non-factor in the Travers. Dr Post was a credible runner-up in the Belmont, but he never threatened late in the Haskell. Caracaro closed to finish second in the Travers, but despite being highly regarded he is still only a maiden winner.
Art Collector (6-1 Circa, 8-1 William Hill), a horse that was on no one’s radar on the original Derby day in May, might yet be the second biggest threat to Tiz the Law. Carrying 2-5 odds Sunday, he led the whole way to win the Ellis Park Derby. So maybe his Kentucky Derby odds shorten to 5-1 or 9-2 by race day. And maybe he becomes the next version of the toughest horse that Tiz the Law has ever faced.
The last time a Kentucky Derby starter was less than 2-1 at post time was 2001, when Point Given was 9-5 before finishing fifth in his only loss of the year. As long as he stays fit, Tiz the Law may be shorter priced than that.
If he wins going away at Louisville, then it may still be said that Tiz the Law has not faced anyone yet. At some point, skeptics might have to gnash their teeth and admit it. That he may be the only tough horse in the 3-year-old crop.
Just ask the futures bettors who got him last fall at 20-1. If they are cashing next month, they will the ones saying, “I told you so.”
Ron Flatter covers horse racing for VSiN.com. He also hosts the Ron Flatter Racing Pod.