ELMONT, N.Y.--Barclay Tagg, an ex-steeplechase rider who began his career riding jumpers in Chester, County, Pa., saddled Tiz the Law to win the Belmont Stakes on June 20.
Tagg is one of a number of steeplechase jockeys who have taken the knowledge they earned riding out mornings and later in races to turn their careers into successful flat horse trainers.
Tagg won 47 races over fences from 1966 to 1977 riding for trainers like Jonathan Sheppard, "Pop" Dickson and Burly Cocks.
"Barclay worked for me, riding out in mornings," said Sheppard. "Curiously, he's a couple of years older than me. He was very focused and quite ambitious."
"He was very determined, and he succeeded," said Sheppard. "His riding didn't come easily for him. He rode winners for me. I remember he won on a horse owned by Marshall Jenney at Delaware Park."
Sackatoga Stable's Tiz the Law overtook Tap It to Win coming out of the turn and drew away for a 3 ¾-length triumph in the 152nd running of the G1, $1 million Belmont Stakes, becoming the first state-bred in 138 years to win the American Classic.
"It looked to me like everything just went like clockwork," said Tagg. "That's the way the horse likes to run and that's the position the horse likes to be in. Manny knows the horse very well. We discussed it quickly before I put him up on the horse, and I felt very confident Manny would ride him that way. I felt pretty solid about halfway down the lane. It's a good feeling."
"I was delighted to see him win," said Tagg, who at 82 is still going strong. "I'm glad I lived long enough to have a horse like this."
TAGG SAID he will consider Tiz the Law for the G1, $1 million Travers on Aug. 8 at Saratoga to facilitate what he hopes is a run in the re-ordered Triple Crown series, with the Derby scheduled for the following month and concluding with the Preakness on Oct. 3 at Pimlico.
"The long-range plan would be the Travers, the Derby and then the Preakness," said Tagg. "After that, they'll probably want me to take him to the Breeders' Cup."
For Tagg, the Belmont Stakes was the only remaining Classic that eluded him.
He teamed with Sackatoga Stable in 2003 to campaign Funny Cide, who won that year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness before running third in that year's Belmont.
Now, the veteran conditioner can claim a career Triple Crown, adding another milestone to an illustrious career that saw him train his first winner in 1972.
"For a lot longer before that I was hoping to win the Belmont," Tagg said. "Funny Cide got us close anyway and we topped it off with Tiz the Law here today."
Tiz the Law's jockey Manny Franco, NYRA's leading rider the last two years, ensured Saturday was a memorable day for him.
The 25-year-old won his first career Triple Crown race and has piloted Tiz the Law to all four of his graded stakes victories, including three in a row starting with the G3 Holy Bully in February at Gulfstream Park.
"I was pretty confident by the time we hit the seven-eighths pole. He was so kind and relaxed for me," Franco said. "He was so comfortable and never got keen, so I think that was the key.
"I'm not going to lie I was little bit nervous in the gate, but at the same time I was confident because I know what I have under me. Like I said, I'm in good hands with Barclay," he said.
"It's tremendous to win the Belmont," said Jack Knowlton, Sackatoga Stable's operations manager. "We've been with Barclay Tagg for 25 years and I keep telling everybody, Barclay doesn't get a lot of big horses, big opportunities, but when he does he knows what to do. He's got his and Sackatoga's got theirs. Triple Crown, two different horses, two different years, and not a lot of people can say that."
"Jack does the team thing," said Tagg. "He gets wonderful people. It's a pleasure to work for him."
TIZ THE LAW became just the fourth New York-bred and first since Forester in 1882 to earn a trip to the Belmont Stakes winner circle.
The Constitution colt already has registered three G1 victories, adding scores in the Champagne as a juvenile and a last-out win in the Florida Derby in March at Gulfstream Park and now has five wins in six career starts and is 3-for-3 as a sophomore.
Tiz the Law, the 4-5 mutuel favorite, broke well under Franco and settled in third position as Tap It to Win led the 10-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in 23.11 seconds and the half in 46.16 over the fast main track.
Franco tipped out his charge slightly entering the turn, putting Tiz the Law in prime position to overtake Tap It to Win to his outside at the top of the stretch. Tiz the Law took over from there and pressed strong to the wire, completing the one-turn 1 1/8-mile course in a final time of 1:46.53.
The Belmont Stakes - being contested as the Tripe Crown's first leg for the first time in history and run at a distance other than 1 ½ miles for the first time since 1925 - offered 150-60-30-15 qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby, slated for September 5 at Churchill Downs.
It was held without spectators.
Tiz the Law, bred in the Empire State by Twin Creeks Farm, returned $3.60 on a $2 win wager, increasing his career earnings to more than $1.5 million.
A $110,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred sale in Saratoga, he also improved to 5-for-5 on fast tracks, with his only non-winning effort coming with a third-place effort in the 1 1/16-mile G2 Kentucky Jockey Club in November on a sloppy and sealed Churchill Downs track that capped his 2-year-old year.
Dr Post, trained by three-time Belmont winner Todd Pletcher, beat Max Player by 1 ½ lengths for second in his graded stakes debut.
"He ran great. No excuse," said Dr Post jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. "He got beat by a good horse too. The winner is a nice horse, New York-bred and he ran great. My horse is improving. He's only had three races [going into the Belmont]. He just needs a little more time to figure things out."
Linda Rice, whose Max Player bid to make her the first female to win a Triple Crown race, was 2 ½ lengths the best of Pneumatic for third, marking the fourth time in as many career starts he finished on the board.
"He got shuffled back a little after the break and had a wide trip through the turn, but he was still running on at the end of it," Rice said. "He hasn't run in five months, so it was a pretty good effort."
Tap It to Win, Sole Volante, Modernist, Farmington Road, Fore Left and Jungle Runner completed the order of finish.