NEW YORK, June 19 (Reuters) - Tiz the Law aims to gallop to history as the 6-5 favourite in Saturday's 152nd Belmont Stakes, with the race usually last in the Triple Crown going first in a topsy-turvy time in the sports calendar.
The New York race is going forward under strict social distancing procedures, with no spectators allowed, after the postponement of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes to Sept. 5 and Oct. 3 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the pressure is getting to the New York-bred Tiz the Law, however, one can hardly tell.
"Anything you want him to do – he does it. He's so relaxed," owner Jack Knowlton told reporters this week. "(He is) laid back and is that way in his training and that way even in the races."
The colt won his debut race by more than four lengths at Saratoga in August and clinched the Curlin Florida Derby in March.
Knowlton and trainer Barclay Tagg were also together in 2003 when their horse Funny Cide won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes but were denied Triple Crown glory at the Belmont.
"I think if you beat him, you win," said Mark Casse, a Hall of Fame trainer for last year's Belmont winner Sir Winston and Tap It To Win, who is expected to contend this year at 6-1.
The Belmont, traditionally a 1-1/2-mile endurance test at the end of the Triple Crown, has been shortened to 1-1/8 mile, to accommodate three-year-old thoroughbreds in training. It's a change some trainers welcome - at least this year.
"If the Belmont was a mile and a half Saturday, I doubt we would be in it," said Casse.
Andie Biancone, the assistant trainer and owner of 9-2 Sole Volante, said she was "kind of bummed, initially," by the change but has since come around.
"The other day he went on a one-turn mile and he's just super versatile," Biancone told reporters. "I think it's going to be perfect for him."
Dr Post, widely considered to have the best shot at upsetting Tiz the Law at 5-1, will break out of the ninth post in the 10-horse field.
"He's a horse that has probably benefited from the change in the traditional Triple Crown calendar because he didn’t make his three-year-old debut until March 29th," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "Under traditional timings he was not going to be ready for probably any of the Triple Crown races."
The Belmont Stakes is scheduled to start at 5:42 p.m. ET on Saturday. (Reporting Editing by Christian Radnedge)