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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Tagg Sale

- Barclay Tagg's decision to skip the Breeders Cup with Showing Up (Strategic Mission) is more typical of what we've come to expect of the trainer than his seemingly rash decision to run the colt in the Derby in his 4th lifetime start. But he obviously saw something very special, and Showing Up has certainly borne him out, albeit on the grass. So I think that it pays to pay attention to what Tagg decides about Nobiz About Showbiz regarding the Juvenile after that one's second to Scat Daddy in the Champagne. His immediate post-race comment was: "The Breeders' Cup probably won't be the prudent thing to do, but I wouldn't rule it out." [Bloodhorse] Somewhat similar to his comments immediately after Showing Up's win in the Lexington, when he said: "The smart thing to do might be to skip the Derby and wait for the Preakness, but if you win the Derby, the horse is about 20 times more valuable afterward.

Showing Up showed off for the sparse crowd of 6,222 in the Grade 2 Jamaica with a most impressive win, though what should we have expected after he knocked heads with older horses in the Man O'War. He went off at 2-5 and attracted $108,000 worth of bridgejump money. Cornelio Velasquez rode him patiently and confidentally, allowing the two horses in front of him sprint away on the turn through a third quarter of 23.25 seconds; that after a leisurely half mile of 49.72. Showing Up moved up for the lead approaching the stretch as Outperformance, an improving sort from the white-hot Richard Violette barn, ranged up outside with more momemtum and carrying nine fewer pounds. It was here that Showing Up demonstrated his ability as he dug in to repulse the challenge and, with Velasquez merely shaking up the reins, drew away for a 3 1/2 length win through a final three-eighths of 34.84 seconds, and a final eighth of 11.35.

Next is the Hollywood Derby, another race restricted to three-year olds, on Nov 26. If Tagg was a bit hasty running this horse in the Derby, here he's being quite prudent in finding suitable spots and putting off the big fight for another year, at which time Showing Up could be something very special. (And hopefully, there will be a next year for this colt).

Turning to Nobiz Like Showbiz, Tagg's juvenile sensation was bet down to 7-5 on the basis of his one heralded start here last month. But the race started out as poorly for him as did Game 3 for the Mets. He was pinched back coming out of the gate, an event not noted by Tom Durkin, and was second to last.

So he certainly earned a grade of excellent for his second-place finish. However, all the attention is going to Scat Daddy (Johannesburg), though more for his trainer Todd Pletcher, who made a mockery of the record books in setting the mark for most stakes wins in a year with 93.

Personally, I hope that between Pletcher's achievement and Nobiz Like Showbiz' excuse, Scat Daddy's effort gets overlooked going into the Juvenile. I'm not putting too much into Nobiz' excuse. He recovered quickly and had ample room to advance up the inside. Then he saved ground going into the turn, while Scat Daddy was wide throughout. Tagg's colt got to the lead impressively no doubt, but Scat Daddy just ran him down, fair and square, and I thought it was a fine effort in his 4th lifetime start, rallying through a final quarter of 24.75 and a final time of 1:36.97, more than three seconds faster than the Frizette. I think I'd have to say that it was the best performance in any of the two-year old preps I've seen. Of course, he'll have to answer the two-turns question in the Juvenile, as would Nobiz Like Showbiz should Tagg decide to run him.

- Just how hot is trainer Violette? Even Tagg noted after Showing Up's win that "">Violette is as hot as a firecracker." He had another winner on Saturday, which gives him 12 wins in 33 starts at the Belmont meeting. (Though I imagine he would have traded a few of those to have gotten High Finance a win at Keeneland.)