(Tiz the Law wins the G1 Champagne Stakes / Photo by Chelsea Durand & Courtesy of NYRA)
From the NYRA Media Team:
G1 Champagne Stakes:
Sackatoga Stable’s Tiz the Law emerged onto the scene with an impressive debut score in August at Saratoga. The New York-bred handled the step up in class and distance with near-equal dominance, rating off the early speed and surging in the stretch to draw away a four-length winner over Green Light Go in the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne for 2-year-olds on Saturday at Belmont Park.
The 148th running of the Champagne concluded five stakes on Saturday’s card and was the second of two Grade 1s following Arklow’s half-length win over Channel Maker in the $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic one race prior.
Jockey Manny Franco — Tiz the Law (1st):
“He broke a little bit aggressive. He bobbled a bit and then he took a strong hold early but I got him to relax and he came back to me” Franco said. “I was just waiting for the moment. I didn’t want to move too early because I knew I had a lot of horse under me. I was trying to wait as long as I could. He lugged in a bit, he’s still a little green. I had a lot of horse at the end. He’s a nice horse.”
Trainer Barclay Tagg — Tiz the Law:
“It was just what I wanted to see,” Tagg said. “Out of the gate, he bobbled badly. He out broke himself. Manny did a great job with him. He got him all the way back and saved some ground.
“You’re taking a chance to jump into a big race like this in just his second start,” he added. “We didn’t do that to Funny Cide. He [Funny Cide] had it a little easier, but we were very pleased with him [Tiz the Law].”
Tiz the Law, a 4 ¼-length winner going 6 ½ furlongs on August 8 at the Spa, improved to 2-for-2 and banked $275,000 in victory. Bred by Twin Creeks Farm, he returned $4.80 on a $2 win bet.
Both Tagg and co-owner Jack Knowlton said they would likely focus on the Kentucky Derby trail and are unlikely to run Tiz the Law in the Breeders’ Cup.
“I don’t think so. It’s a little bit close and it’s a long way away,” Tagg said. “We can always go to California another year, but we can only go to the Kentucky Derby one year.”
Jockey Junior Alvarado — Green Light Go (2nd):
Stronach Stables’ Green Light Go, the field’s only previous graded stakes winner coming off a victory in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special on August 10, edged Big City Bob by a neck for second. The Jimmy Jerkens trainee earned four qualifying points to the Derby and Big City Bob was awarded two.
“Just second best. He was in a nice rhythm,” jockey Junior Alvarado said. “I thought he was very relaxed. Turning for home, I asked him for a run and he gave me his best. Just second best.”
G1 Joe Hirsch:
The headline event of the two-day Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Festival did not disappoint as three horses crossed the wire together in a thrilling finish in the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch on Saturday at Belmont Park, with trainer Brad Cox’s Arklow coming out on top over last year’s winner Channel Maker and Sadler’s Joy.
Run at 1 ½ miles over a firm Widener turf course at Belmont, the Joe Hirsch featured an evenly-matched field of older turf marathoners that also included millionaire Zulu Alpha, Chilean superhorse Ya Primo, and graded stakes winner Channel Cat.
Jockey Junior Alvarado — Arklow (1st):
“Every race, I try to do my homework and sometimes you just have to go with how the race is developing,” said Alvarado. “One thing I was sure of was that I didn’t want to get in his way. I wanted to save ground since it’s a mile and a half race. Coming by the wire at the first turn, I knew we were going a little slow. I didn’t want to go in behind those horses and then never be able to catch the frontrunner, so I just lost a little ground into the first turn but I never got in his way. I let him find his rhythm and he was there for me the whole way around.”
G2 Hill Prince Stakes:
Neptune’s Storm, expertly handled by Ricardo Santana, Jr., stalked and pounced his way to victory in Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Hill Prince, a nine-furlong test for sophomores on the firm inner turf at Belmont Park.
Trained by Richard Baltas for owners John Rochfort, Saul Gevertz, Lynn Gitomer, Mike Goetz, Michael Nentwig, and Daniel Weiner, Neptune’s Storm, racing with blinkers off, tracked the early foot of A Thread of Blue to the top of the lane before punching home a three-quarter length winner.
Jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. — Neptune’s Storm (1st):
Santana, Jr. was full of praise for the ultra-consistent Neptune’s Storm.
“I was just a passenger today. He put himself in a position that he wanted,” said Santana, Hr. “That horse is so classy and he knows how to win. He did everything by himself, to be honest. Turning for home, I knew I had plenty of horse and I knew I just had to wait. This stretch is so long, so I knew I could wait until the right moment. He gave me a nice, strong kick and finish to get home.”
G3 Matron Stakes:
Godolphin homebred Alms thrived off a two-week break from her debut win to capture Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Matron over the firm inner turf at Belmont Park.
Trained by Michael Stidham, the City Zip bay arrived at the six-furlong event for juvenile fillies off of a maiden victory on September 19 over Belmont’s Widener turf course.
Jockey Jose Lezcano — Alms (1st):
Lezcano said he wanted to urge Alms into a winning rhythm early in the Matron.
“At the three-eighths pole, I had to start asking her. She’s still young and a little bit green,” Lezcano said. “I wanted to ask her a little bit earlier because I know the turf is playing a little bit fast today and I didn’t want to fall too far behind. Once I asked, she went on well to win the race. I think she can go longer.”