When writing about HRH Queen Elizabeth and her efforts to save the Cleveland Bay, I thought I’d like to refocus this blog and search out stories that resonate among those of us who have spent a lifetime enamored with horses.
I did not have to look very far for my next “feel good” tale. At the centre of the story is, of course, a horse. In this instance, a magnificent horse named Tiz the Law.
I don’t follow North American horse racing a lot any more. I do, however, track Northern Dancer descendants and this grand looking fellow has our Canadian hero in his family tree four times. While last month Tiz the Law won the abridged Belmont Stakes with relative ease, it was this past weekend, when he cruised to Travers victory at Saratoga in upstate New York, that he really got my attention. Saratoga, coincidentally, is the stomping grounds, of his owners, Sackatoga Stable, which started out with a group of childhood friends, five of whom went to high school together in Sackets Harbour, a small town on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. Each of the friends invested $5000.
You may remember them as the owners of Funny Cide, winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby. While most of the big-shots arrive at Churchill Downs in chauffeur-driven limos, the Sackatoga gang arrived at USA’s most glamourous horse race in a yellow school bus. Now, with Tiz the Law headed to Kentucky Derby starting gate in a few weeks, rumour has it the Sackatoga team will be arriving, once again, in the yellow school buses.
Their trainer, then and now, is Barclay Tagg. He brought them Funny Cide. And now, Tiz the Law. Years ago, Ray Paulick, former Blood-Horse editor wrote of Tagg, “He has some characteristics uncannily like “Silent” Tom Smith, the trainer of Seabiscuit.
“He takes care of his horse, doesn’t rush into anything or run him when he shouldn’t. I like that about Tagg. Like Tom Smith, he’s his own man and will put the horse first. I wish we had more trainers out there like him.”
to be continued..