New York-bred Tiz the Law among trio of Florida Derby connections for Twin Creeks Farm
by Keith McCalmont
Steve Davison and Randy Gullatt's Twin Creeks Farm will have heightened interest in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
Leading the charge in the 1 1/8-mile test offering 100-40-20-10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points is Sackatoga Stable's Tiz the Law. Bred in New York by Twin Creeks Farm, Tiz the Law, listed as the 6-5 morning-line favorite, is one of three sons of Constitution entered in the Florida Derby along with Independence Hall, a two-time stakes winner at Aqueduct Racetrack co-owned by Twin Creeks Farm; and the highly-regarded Gouverneur Morris, who won on debut impressively at Saratoga Race Course for owners Team Valor International and WinStar Farm.
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Constitution, campaigned by Twin Creeks and WinStar Farm, captured the 2014 Florida Derby and now stands at stud in Kentucky at WinStar.
"We still own a pretty good chunk of Constitution and it's really cool to see three sons of Constitution set to compete in a race that he won. It's such an important race," said Gullatt.
Tiz the Law, trained by Barclay Tagg, won at first asking in August at Saratoga when 4 ¼-lengths the better of eventual multiple-stakes winner Dream Bigger in a 6 ½-furlong maiden sprint.
Purchased for $110,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale, Tiz the Law proved his class next out on October 5 at Belmont by winning the Grade 1 Champagne by four lengths over Grade 2 Saratoga Special victor Green Light Go.
"It was thrilling to have a Grade 1-winner by Constitution in his first crop and especially for it to have come through our breeding," said Gullatt.
Tiz the Law completed his juvenile campaign in November with a good third in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club contested on a sloppy Churchill Downs strip.
In his seasonal debut in February, Tiz the Law won the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream by three lengths over Ete Indien, who came back to annex a 10-horse Grade 2 Fountain of Youth field by 8 ½-lengths on February 29.
Tiz the Law is a bay colt out of the graded-stakes winning Tiznow mare Tizfiz, who won the 2009 Grade 2 San Gorgonio over nine furlongs of Santa Anita turf. Gullatt, who campaigned New York-based stallions Mission Impazible and Destin now standing stud at Sequel New York, said Tizfiz was a targeted purchase.
"We bought the mare because she was a very good outcross to several of our stallions. She had some quality on the racetrack and is a very classy mare," said Gullatt.
Foaled in New York, Tiz the Law was soon transferred to Gullatt's care at Twin Creeks Farm in Versailles, Kentucky.
"He spent his first 90 days in New York and then came to Twin Creeks and was raised in Kentucky through his yearling year," said Gullatt. "He was always very easy to manage and always easy to teach new skills to and a joy to be around. He never had a bad day.
"We are a 230-acre farm and we keep about 10 mares and babies, so he grew up around a lot of quality horses," added Gullatt. "We're a smaller farm and they get individual care every day, but he was a doll to work with."
Twin Creeks have made a significant investment in New York racing and have been rewarded by the success of the multiple graded-stakes winning Mission Impazible, who was New York's leading freshman sire of 2016, leading sophomore sire of 2017, leading third-crop sire of 2018, and leading sire of 2-year-olds in 2017.
"New York has an outstanding program for breeder awards and stallion awards," said Gullatt. "We raced Mission Impazible and we were looking for a regional market to fit him. We wanted to breed our mares to him and support him and the New York program made a ton of sense. We planned on racing quite a few of those progeny and we've been doing that now for several years."
Tiz the Law now has two half-siblings by Mission Impazible including a 2-year-old filly and a promising grey yearling.
"The filly is in Ocala at Susan Montanye's SBM operation and we plan on racing her ourselves. Hopefully, she will be a broodmare for us in the future," said Gullatt. "She's learning and we're taking our time with her. Once we feel she's ready, we'll send her up to New York."
Gullatt said the yearling Mission Impazible colt is already turning heads.
"We're really thrilled with him," said Gullatt. "We're 50-50 thinking about putting him in the Saratoga Yearling Sale, but we'll see how things go this summer. He looks to have a lot of quality.
"He's a grey colt and he has a lot of body," added Gullatt. "He's very similar to Tiz the Law. He has a lot of quality to his mind and physically he's a very strong, confident colt."
Standing alongside Mission Impazible at Sequel New York is Destin, a full-brother to Grade 1-winner Creative Cause, who missed by a nose to Creator in the 2016 Grade 1 Belmont Stakes and was a close third in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy.
"His first babies are being born this year and we've only seen a handful of them," said Gullatt. "He's a very good-looking horse and we're supporting him as well. I think he has as good an opportunity to succeed."
Tiz the Law stands 15th in the Kentucky Derby standings with 22 points and he'll face a strong challenge from Independence Hall, who won the Grade 3 Nashua in November and $150,000 Jerome in January at the Big A for Twin Creeks and co-owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and original owners Kathleen and Robert N. Verratti.
The partners bought into Independence Hall, trained by Michael Trombetta, following an impressive maiden score at Parx in September.
"We were on the lookout for a quality Constitution and we really liked what we saw in his first start," said Gullatt. "I flew out to Fair Hill to Trombetta's barn to look at him and it took me all of two seconds to know this was the one we needed to buy into. He was absolutely stunning and showed all the quality you'd hope to see.
"We raced Constitution ourselves and I saw a lot of similar qualities," added Gullatt. "He's a very athletic, good-sized lengthy colt that looked like he would excel at two turns. We have high hopes on him. I think he has an excellent chance."
Independence Hall has proven to be a strong-willed colt and was excitable in the paddock ahead of his Jerome score.
"Constitution was very spirited and tough. He was all racehorse. We're seeing that in a lot of his offspring," said Gullatt. "Tiz the Law is one of the more kind ones. Independence Hall is lovely minded around the barn area, but when he gets on the racetrack, he's all business."
Last out, Independence Hall ran second to Sole Volante in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. Gullatt said the strapping dark bay, who sits 22nd in the Derby standings with 14 points, has an excuse for the lone loss on his otherwise sparkling ledger.
"He lost his right front shoe before the race," said Gullatt. "That wasn't ideal to run a race of that quality on three shoes, but he's a horse that's learning and maturing all the time. I don't think we've seen the best of Independence Hall yet."
Rounding out the trio of Constitution colts in the Florida Derby is Team Valor and WinStar Farm's Gouverneur Morris. The grey was a nine-length winner of his career debut at Saratoga on September 2 as the heavy favorite.
Bred in Kentucky by Craig Brodgen, Carrie Brogden, Machmer Hall, and James F. Miller, Gouverneur Morris was purchased for $600,000 from the Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Gouverneur Morris ran second in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity to complete his juvenile campaign and enters the Florida Derby off a steady 1 ¼-length win in an optional-claiming tilt on Valentine's Day at Tampa Bay Downs.
"The Florida Derby is going to be a very exciting race," said Gullatt.