By Nicholas Godfrey
USA: Breeders’ Cup Classic-winning jockey John Velazquez will replace Manny Franco as Tiz The Law’s jockey when he begins his 2021 campaign in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on January 23.
Franco was criticised by trainer Barclay Tagg in the aftermath of America’s richest race at Keeneland, where Tiz The Law could finish only sixth behind Authentic after being penned on the inner.
The news is a serious blow to Franco, who has partnered the son of Constitution in eight races since his two-year-old debut under Junior Alvarado.
The partnership won four G1s, including both the Belmont and Travers Stakes, before being beaten into second behind Velazquez-partnered Authentic as odds-on favourite for the Kentucky Derby in September.
News of the jockey change to Hall of Famer Velazquez, vastly more experienced than Franco, was revealed in a statement by Tiz The Law’s owners Sackatoga Stable.
“I’m grateful for all that has been accomplished thus far with Tiz,” said managing partner Jack Knowlton.
Tiz The Law arrived at the Palm Meadows Training Center on Tuesday ready for the winter season at Gulfstream Park, where he won the G1 Florida Derby in March with Franco in the saddle.
“How can you not be? But we have another year of racing ahead of us and want to do what’s best for him and our partners. Tiz’s story still has another chapter.”
Velazquez will be based in South Florida over the winter. “We’re very pleased to have an opportunity to have Johnny ride him,” said Knowlton, speaking to the Daily Racing Form.
“He beat us twice this year with Authentic. Now that Authentic isn’t around any longer, getting Johnny is a good opportunity.”
After the $3m Pegasus, Knowlton suggested Dubai could be on the agenda. Commenting on Franco’s efforts at Keeneland, he added: “Barclay made his feelings known. We were all disappointed.”