Respected photographer Jamie Newell is no stranger to the Kentucky Derby and Thoroughbred racing events.

Though several moments seemed familiar; rain, barns stirring with Derby contenders, and sightings of ‘Coach’ D. Wayne Lukas, there was still so much different among the familiar. Take a moment to peer through Jamie’s lens and see what Tiz the Law’s prep for the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports looks like in this unprecedented approach to the First Saturday in September.

Tiz the Law

by Jamie Newell

Tiz the Law peered out of stall eleven and watched the hustle and bustle of pre-dawn backside activity as the rain hammered the barn and he was tacked up for his morning exercise.

A massive storm cell on the radar promised to hover over the 15-minute window reserved for Derby and Oaks horses during a busy week at Churchill Downs. Usually, the Thursday morning before Kentucky Derby has a distinct buzz of excitement, and the backside is teeming with people and horses; but of course, 2020 is not a normal year.

So the heavy Kentucky Derby favorite approached the gap to enter the track without fanfare, and only the most threadbare throng of media and looky-loos assembled to watch.  

Rain has dogged Tiz the Law during his morning works; at Saratoga, a summer storm rolled in and sabotaged one of his last major workouts and threatened to do it again for his final move. Not that the rain seems to faze him.

On Wednesday, the works were also held under a morning storm, and a few horses shot up in the air at the sound of their own hoofs slapping the fresh mud. But Tiz the Law was down to business, and cantered twice around the track with work on his mind.   

On this Thurby outing, the son of Constitution stretched his legs around the track under his regular exercise rider Heather Smullen in an absolute downpour. The morning exercise was chaperoned, as trainer Barclay Tagg ponied alongside and kept a watchful eye. 

After a couple trips around the track, the team returned and cooled out in the shedrow of barn twenty. His barn-mates watched with interest, and maybe a little jealousy, as every time he passed the open breezeway, the flashy colt was greeted with a chorus of shutter-snaps.

Tiz the Law looked out at his public, a star already at the apex of success. 

Then it was time to untack, and a brief bath outside in front of the smattering of media. The rain had let up by now, of course, and Tiz the Law hammed it up for the cameras and snapped at his handler before being dressed in his fresh TwinSpires cooler. 

The Derby favorite walked the shedrow and returned to his stall, his daily routine surely a comfort to him. Time for breakfast, time for a nap in the back of his stall.

Later there would be schooling in the paddock, under the sunshine, but without the usual festive Thurby crowd. 

Only 48 hours until the Kentucky Derby.

Tiz the Law doesn’t know what the day should bring. He doesn’t know he’s missing the 170,000 screaming fans, a walkover mob unlike anything he’s ever seen, or a time-honored tradition in May.

He’s just a very good horse, doing everything that’s ever been asked of him extremely well. 

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