SARATOGA SPRINGS — Nobody was telling Tiz the Law what to do on Saturday.
Not even his exercise rider.
Then again, that was by design, as the star 3-year-old colt cruised through another seemingly effortless breeze on his march toward the Aug. 8 Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
Under Heather Smullen, Tiz the Law cranked along in even furlong splits to finish five-eighths of a mile in 1:00.48, on a day when the quality of the effort wasn’t really measured by a stopwatch.
Still, Tiz the Law ran the second-fastest of 16 works at that distance on Saturday, hitting the track shortly after 8:30 a.m. to take advantage of the renovation break. He’ll get one more breeze next weekend, then it’s on to the Travers for Sackatoga Stable and their New York-bred Belmont Stakes winner.
“He’s easy to deal with,” trainer Barclay Tagg said. “He went close to 12 [seconds per furlong] all the way around, so that was good enough.
“I’ll work him a half-mile and gallop out. We won’t do quite as much. He could probably take it, but why push it. He’s got three good races under him, he’s good and fit. His last race wasn’t that far away, and he’s trained perfectly, hasn’t missed any workouts or anything.”
“I just sat there, and he did it on his own,” Smullen said. “If you say, ‘Go faster,’ he would’ve gone faster. I asked him for absolutely nothing. Everything today was just easy and comfort on his part. Just galloped along and did his work.
“[My job is to] stay out of the way, don’t mess it up, go in the time you’re supposed to.”
Although Tiz the Law was the first horse on the track after the renovation break, he encountered some horses in the middle of the track coming off the turn, so Smullen angled him to the rail.
He kept to a straight line through the finish line and galloped out with plenty in the tank.
Tiz the Law will go a mile and a quarter in the Travers — the Belmont was shortened to a mile and an eighth this year — then point toward the Kentucky Derby four weeks later.
It was his fourth published workout since the June 20 Belmont.
“It was a little different this week just because there was traffic right off the rail, and last week there was no one around, nothing for him to look at,” Smullen said. “This week, there were a couple down the stretch and he just buzzed right by them, and I never moved my hands, never told him to do anything.
“He stays on his own course, gallops out and does his job great. Same deal. Goes all the way back around, doesn’t need a pull-up, just keep on going.”
“I wanted to get the pony around here as quickly as I could so I could get a hold of him,” said Tagg, who escorted Tiz the Law to and from the track with a pony. “Because If you pull him up and somebody else gets dumped, a horse gets loose or something like that, you can be in big trouble.
“So I’m kind of hurrying around there, letting the pony canter around there, but she [Smullen] couldn’t find me. This was pulling up afterward, and he was still going 12, 12, 12. It looked to me like he was flying around there. His breathing was perfect. I mean, you could tell he just worked, but nothing like most of them.”
“It was just what we need,” Sackatoga operating manager Jack Knowlton said. “He’s fit, and he shows that. The time really doesn’t matter, when you look at the way he gallops out. That, to me, is what’s more meaningful. He works five furlongs, and then he gallops out six, he gallops out seven, a mile. And still keeps going.
“It just seems to be no end of the energy that he has. So I’m looking forward to a mile-and-a-quarter race. I just think he’s going to relish that, based on the way he’s finished his races this year and the way he works.”
Pool 6 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager closed last Sunday with Tiz the Law as the 5-2 favorite and Honor A. P. and Uncle Chuck next at 6-1. Honor A. P. is scheduled to run in the Shared Belief at Del Mar next Saturday, and trainer Bob Baffert said Uncle Chuck likely would wind up in the Travers.
“It’s a lot of fun. A lot of tension, too. A lot of pressure,” Tagg said. “There’s pressure that you guys don’t even see, but there’s a lot of it. It’s not like he’s the only thing we’ve got to do all day.”
Reach Mike MacAdam at [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.