Tiz the Law returns to the track for the first time in nearly two months as one of the top Kentucky Derby candidates highlights the field of Saturday’s Grade I Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
Initially set for a field of 12, four late scratches have made it a field of nine with an also-eligible now in the field. Three of the scratches drew posts inside of the Barclay Tagg-trained colt, which means Tiz the Law will now break from the fourth gate instead of the seventh.
With Manuel Franco aboard, Tiz the Law is the morning-line favorite for the 1-1/8-mile race at 6-5.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Run for the Roses is now five months instead of five weeks away. Still, Tiz the Law’s owner said the Florida Derby, considered a top prep race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, is still important.
Saturday’s winner will earn 100 points, which would guarantee a spot in the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby. Even the 40 points for a second-place finish would likely secure a spot for Tiz the Law, who enters Saturday with 22 qualifying points.
One of the big reasons is we want to get our points and then not have to worry about that and hopefully keep him healthy and sound so we’re able to actually run the race on the first Saturday in September,” said Jack Knowlton, managing partner for Sackatoga Stable.
Tiz the Law has three wins in four career starts. In his last race, Gulfstream’s Grade III Holy Bull on Feb. 1, he took the lead going into the stretch and pulled away to a convincing three-length win over Ete Indien.
Ete Indien Gets Second Chance
Ete Indien enters Saturday as the second choice in the race at 4-1. Four weeks after the Holy Bull, the Patrick Biancone-trained colt torched the 10-horse field to win going away by eight-and-a-half lengths in the Grade II Fountain of Youth.
On Saturday, he’ll get an extra sixteenth to see if he can chase down Tiz the Law. He’d drawn the outside gate in the 12-horse field, but with the scratches and late entry of Rouge Element, Ete Indien now gets the more manageable starting spot of the eighth gate with Florent Geroux getting the mount.
Since moving off the turf, Ete Indien has two wins and the second place finish in three trips on the dirt. All those have taken place at Gulfstream.
“The horse keeps improving from race to race,” Biancone said. “Hopefully, he’ll keep improving and we should have a really good horse in the summer.”
Independence Hall, Gouverneur Morris Also Contenders
Independence Hall, coming off a second-place run in the Tampa Bay Derby on Feb. 8, is the third choice at 9-2. Trained by Michael Trombetta, the colt won his first three races before Sole Volante caught him down the stretch at Tampa Bay Downs. Joel Rosario will get the ride as Independence Hall will break from the sixth gate.
Todd Pletcher, Gulfstream’s leading trainer, has two horses in the field, and his best shot is likely Gouverneur Morris. The lightly raced colt has just three starts in his career, with two wins. That includes a nine-length romp in his maiden race last September. However, while he finished second in the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October, he never really was a threat to Maxfield in the race.
John Velazquez gets the call on Gouverneur Morris, who breaks from the second gate. He has morning-line odds of 8-1.
Post time for the Florida Derby is set for 6:36 pm, and the race will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network.
Full field information is available here.