There’s No­biz Like Sho­biz at Wire

With Lim­ited Dis­trac­tions, Colt Holds Off Sight­see­ing to Claim Wood Me­mo­rial

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sports - By John Schein­man

OZONE PARK, N.Y., April 7 — With blinkers around his eyes and cot­ton balls in his ears, No­biz Like Sho­biz got his mind off dis­trac­tions and back on busi­ness Satur­day, hus­tling home along the rail to win the Grade I $750,000 Wood Me­mo­rial at Aqueduct and jump back into the thick of the Ken­tucky Derby pic­ture.

Once the con­sen­sus leader of the 3-year-old di­vi­sion, No­biz Like Sho­biz lost some of his lus­ter last month, when he lugged in badly in the stretch dur­ing the Foun­tain of Youth stakes at Gulf­stream Park, blow­ing an ap­par­ent vic­tory and fin­ish­ing third.

Trainer Bar­clay Tagg, who said he “de­tested” adding blinkers to such a young horse, nev­er­the­less be­lieved he had to do some­thing dras­tic to break what looked to be a de­vel­op­ing bad habit. As an ex­tra pre­cau­tion, Tagg stuffed in the cot­ton balls to make sure No­biz Like Sho­biz fo­cused more on the fin­ish line and less on the crowd of 7,848 scream­ing from the Aqueduct grandstand.

Al­though the per­for­mance was far from sen­sa­tional, No­biz Like Sho­biz put away Any Given Satur­day, a pow­er­ful run­ner from the barn of Todd Pletcher, and then held off Sight­see­ing late to win by a halflength. The win­ner ran the 11⁄ 8- mile dirt race in 1 minute 49.46 sec­onds. By com­par­i­son, Pletcher’s 5-yearold Magna Grad­u­ate ran the same dis­tance two races later in 1:48.10 to win Grade III Ex­cel­sior Breed­ers’ Cup Hand­i­cap for older horses.

“I had a pretty good feel­ing about him to­day,” said Tagg, who won the Ken­tucky Derby in 2003 with Funny Cide. “They were com­ing down [the stretch] slowly, but they used them­selves pretty good [early in the race]. He was a lit­tle rank around the first turn, but he set­tled pretty good.”

The Santa Anita Derby and Illi­nois Derby were also run Satur­day, but the in­trigue sur­round­ing No­biz Like Sho­biz and his pen­chant for lug­ging ap­peared to be the main fo­cus of the sec­ond-to-last week­end of prin­ci­ple Ken­tucky Derby prep races.

Start­ing from the inside post po­si­tion in the field of six, No­biz Like Sho­biz broke sharply and raced right up with early lead­ers Flash­storm and Sum­mer Dol­drums. Jockey Cor­ne­lio Ve­lasquez at­tempted to rein him in as they went through the first half-mile in a mod­er­ate 47.26 sec­onds.

With three-eighths of a mile to go, Ve­lasquez asked No­biz Like Sho­biz to go as Any Given Satur­day en­gaged him on his right side. Any Given Satur­day had en­hanced his rep­u­ta­tion greatly in his prior start, miss­ing by a nose to Breed­ers’ Cup Ju­ve­nile win­ner Street Sense on March 17 in the Tampa Bay Derby. The $1.1 mil­lion colt had been pen­ciled in for a re­match next week in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, but Pletcher opted for a run in the Wood af­ter his other planned en­trant, Cir­cu­lar Quay, trained poorly be­fore the race.

Any Given Satur­day proved no match for No­biz Like Sho­biz in the deep stretch and faded to third, while long shot Sight­see­ing, who had only won a maiden race in seven starts, loomed dan­ger­ously be­fore flat­ten­ing out and miss­ing by a halflength.

Pletcher ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment in Any Given Satur­day. The lead­ing trainer in the coun­try sad­dled the colt be­fore the race, less than 30 min­utes be­fore watch­ing a simul­cast of an­other of his 3-yearolds, Cow­town Cat, lead gate to wire to win the Grade II $500,000 Illi­nois Derby at Hawthorne Park.

Pletcher had en­tered Cow­town Cat, who won the Gotham Stakes last month at Aqueduct, in the Wood as an in­sur­ance pol­icy, but scratched him to run in the Illi­nois Derby, a 11⁄ 8- mile race he won in a slow 1:51.21.

“He didn’t re­ally pol­ish it off,” Pletcher said of Any Given Satur­day. “He ob­vi­ously took the worst of it be­ing wide on the first turn and be­ing three wide all the way around on the sec­ond turn. No real ex­cuse, other than just run­ning the long­est.”

Pletcher said Any Given Satur­day will go on to Churchill Downs for the Derby, and, of course, No­biz Like Show­biz will be there wait­ing for him.

With the mis­sion of fo­cus­ing his horse ap­par­ently ac­com­plished, Tagg, nor­mally not one to en­ter­tain hy­po­thet­i­cal ques­tions, looked ahead to the first Satur­day in May.

“I’d like him to sit fourth or fifth in the Derby,” he said. “I had a horse last year in the Derby named Show­ing Up and he and Bar­baro were right there in per­fect po­si­tion. Bar­baro was re­ally in per­fect po­si­tion.

“There’s noth­ing spe­cial I can con­jure up with him now. He’s just go­ing to have to do it him­self.

Rac­ing Notes: Mary­land sprint star Ah Day, far back most of the way, ral­lied on the turn and fin­ished third be­hind Sil­ver Wagon and Di­a­bol­i­cal in the Grade I $300,000 Carter Hand­i­cap on the Wood Me­mo­rial un­der­card. Sil­ver Wagon, who won the Gen­eral Ge­orge Breed­ers’ Cup Hand­i­cap at Lau­rel Park in his prior start, ran the seven-fur­long race in 1:21.46 . . . Ti­ago, a half­brother to 2005 Ken­tucky Derby long shot win­ner Gi­a­como, turned in a sim­i­lar im­prob­a­ble late run to up­set the Grade I $750,000 Santa Anita Derby at odds of 30-1. Owned by Jerry Moss, trained by John Shirreffs and rid­den by Mike Smith — the same con­nec­tions that han­dled Gi­a­como — Ti­ago won the 11⁄ 8- mile Derby prep race in 1:49.51.


“I had a pretty good feel­ing about him to­day,” trainer Bar­clay Tagg said of No­biz Like Sho­biz, rid­den by Cor­ne­lio Ve­lasquez, af­ter their vic­tory.

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