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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Showing Up at Hollywood

- I don't imagine that Barclay Tagg has any regrets about not running Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Breeder Cup (though I'm writing this before Saturday's Remsen). But I wonder if, considering how the races turned out, he thinks now and again about how Showing Up may have fared had run in the Mile or the Turf. The distances of those races may have been the biggest problem - one race may have been too short, the other too long. But does anyone think that Showing Up is not in a class with Miesque's Approval? Or with Red Rocks for that matter?

We've seen how European three-year olds, such as Red Rocks and the Arc winner Rail Link seem better prepared to face older rivals at this time of the year. But Showing Up's effort in the Man O'War against older horses were no worse, on paper, than those by the aforementioned pair in the races leading up to their big wins. Of course, there's always the matter of the relative competition, and Cacique's inexplicably dull effort in the Turf didn't exactly flatter those he beat in the Man O'War. But it seems to me that Showing Up certainly has the potential to be competitive against the Turf and Arc winners, putting distance preferences aside for now.

Tagg has opted to return Showing Up to racing against his own age group, and he'll finish out the year in the G1 Hollywood Derby at a mile and a quarter on Sunday. Owner Roy Jackson told the LA Times:

"After his last race [a 3 1/2 -length win in the Jamaica Breeders' Cup Handicap on Oct. 14 at Belmont], Barclay thought it would really be sort of pressing it to run him in one of the Breeders' Cup races. He thought it would be better to keep him with his own age bracket. We want to keep him sound and run him next year, so this race made more sense."
Ivan Denisovich chased Showing Up home in the Secretariat at Arlington over the summer, and looks to rebound from his eventful Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in England, in which his jockey was accused of using him in inproper "team tactics" to bother Godolphin's Librettist. Brother Derek makes his grass debut, and Dan Hendricks explains:
“Cecil [Peacock] said if we're going to experiment with (Cushion Track) in a $100,000 Grade III race against older horses (Native Diver 'Cap), then let's experiment on turf in a $500,000 Grade I against 3-year-olds....I couldn't put up much of an argument.” []
I probably could, but I won't. I think the horse has been mismanaged ever since it became clear that he's a shade (or three) below the top horses in his age group.

Obrigado looks like an interesting money prospect in the race. He's a steadily improving gelding for Neil Drysdale who has thrown in final furlongs of 11 1/5 in rallying for second in each of his last two races, both Grade 2 stakes at a mile and an eighth. He looks like he'll like the stretchout here.

- Score one for the U.S. - kinda - as Godolphin's Ashkal Way, a middling runner in the UK last year, took his third graded stakes in a row, and his first Grade 1, the Citation, at Hollywood on Friday. And oh my, he was 7-2 as the fans went Euro and backed Rob Roy, a late-running 5th in the BC Mile, to 9-5 favoritism.

Great ride by Garrett Gomez, who overcame the ten post by angling Ashkal Way in before the first turn; he was only 2-3 wide at that point. He got a comfortable position on the rail, and moved up between horses on the turn, saving as much ground as possible. "I was making a little run around the turn and really the only decision I had to make was to duck inside Doug O'Neill's horse (Whilly) rather than go around." [Sporting Life UK] Vic Stauffer picked up the move at that point, and when they got to midstretch, he said, "You better take a look at Ashkal Way, and he is ROLLING down the center of the track!" And he rolled home by a length as the favorite lagged in 5th. Ashkal Way is now one second place finish from being undefeated in seven U.S. starts.

- Don't forget the Japan Cup; it's on TVG at 12:30 A.M. Saturday night (Sunday morning) in the East. Deep Impact will no doubt be the heavy favorite based on the way his fans backed him in the Arc, and if you get that effect here in the U.S. pools, it translates into a subsidy for backers of Ouija Board.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd be very wary of backing Ouija Board here. She is fantastic as we all know, but more often than not she finds herself lacking when facing the very best males. She was also beaten rather soundly by Heart's Cry in Dubai, and now faces that one on his home turf. In fact, she lost to him in last year's Japan Cup as well. I don't like her chances here, not at all.