- I'm maybe just a tad surprised that Nobiz Like Shobiz is the morning line favorite in the Wood, though he does have the home field advantage. It was at the Big A that he put in his most dominant and professional performance when he won the Remsen by 6 1/2. Barclay's Tagg's colt is more accomplished than Any Given Saturday in the sense that he's won two graded stakes races. But Pletcher's colt has run faster according to the figs, and has faced and acquitted himself quite well against what are I think are some tougher horses in Street Sense and Tiz Wonderful. Whatsmore, he's been more professional in doing so. Nobiz Like Shobiz may have the most potential in this entire crop, but I recall what the writer in the Guardian wrote about Discreet Cat: never again must we place the value of potential above proven performance. In my opinion, and I know this is subject to debate, Any Given Saturday rates higher than Nobiz Like Shobiz in the proven performance category.
Having said that, and despite the fact that I've had Any Given Saturday at top of my top ten list, I like Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Wood. He's been working with a purpose with the addition of blinkers, and I for one get the feeling that the new equipment could very well help him get his mind on business (and what should be a relatively sparse crowd could help too). But I also think that his connections are more focused on winning this race than those of Any Given Saturday.
There's been a lot written, of course, about how the Tampa Bay Derby might take something out of both Any Given Saturday and Street Sense, with much talk that both would be better off without another such grueling effort this time. I see signs that Pletcher is trying to see to it that that's the case. For one thing, it's only been three weeks since that race, and it's well-documented that the trainer prefers longer rest to have horses at their best. He's had only one workout, that a rather leisurely five furlong breeze in 1:02 1/5 (10/11); in the past, he's worked quicker in the A.M. Perhaps Pletcher is aware that horses who didn't win the Wood have used the race as a springboard to Derby glory - Genuine Risk, Monarchos, and Funny Cide come to mind.
Though Pletcher won't come out and say that he's using the race strictly as a prep, as John Ward did in
2000 2001 with Monarchos, I think that's the case. He does have to run well, and I'm sure that Pletcher would like to be at least second in order to secure a Derby berth (a third would vault him to #14, but several others he would pass would have chances of their own to recoup). But he doesn't have to win, and I don't think he will. That wouldn't necessarily diminish his Derby prospects in my mind, and might even enhance them, depending on how he runs.
As for some others, Sightseeing knocked heads with Michael Matz's talented Chelokee for Shug McGaughey in allowance races at GP, but it doesn't seem as if he's yet improved enough to make up the 11 lengths he was beaten by Nobiz in the Remsen.
Summer Doldrums is said to have "scoped dirty" after his disappointing run in the Gotham, in which he was wide both turns and didn't run that badly in any case. He could be the target that Barclay Tagg would like to have for Nobiz. Mike Luzzi said he could “do what I want” from the five post.
I’ve definitely got options with him. After looking at the race, we might decide we want him on the lead. We’ll figure it out.” [NYRA Barn Notes]Reptilian Smarts is a son of Include, a sire who I've been noticing more and more of late. He's an improving sort, though he beat a pretty weak field last out, and this seems a bit out of his league.