OZONE PARK, N.Y. -- Barclay Tagg may have taken the conservative route with Showing Up this fall, but he won't repeat that pattern with the talented turf runner in 2007.
Tagg's decision to skip the Breeders' Cup and instead keep Showing Up with 3-year-olds paid off with victories in the Grade 2 Jamaica Handicap and Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, but is unlikely to result in an Eclipse Award as the nation's leading turf horse. A championship is what 2007 will be all about.
"My ultimate goal is to make a champion out of him however I can do it," Tagg said Wednesday morning. "I want to go in as many Grade 1's as I can if he's doing well."
Tagg said he had yet to map out the beginning of Showing Up's 4-year-old campaign, but did say he had sketched out a fall campaign that would most likely conclude in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Monmouth Park. Tagg may look to run Showing Up in the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth in July.
Showing Up was scheduled to leave Southern California on Thursday on a flight to south Florida, where he will winter at Gulfstream Park. Showing Up could make his 4-year-old debut in the Grade 1, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap at 11 furlongs on Feb. 24.
One place Tagg is unlikely to run Showing Up in 2007 is Southern California. Despite Showing Up's brilliant victory in Sunday's Hollywood Derby, Tagg said he did not enjoy himself out there for a couple of reasons.
First, Tagg said that California state vet Gary Beck wanted to scratch Showing Up the morning of the race because he thought the colt was lame behind. Tagg acknowledged that Showing Up has "a shuffly way of going" but that he warms up right out of it. Beck had jockey Cornelio Velasquez warm up Showing Up for him prior to the start of the derby and allowed him to run.
"When he first walked out of the stall, he stumbled and he was stiff," Beck said Wednesday from California. "It was my decision to let the horse warm up. I talked to the second trainer [Robin Smullen] and then I talked to Barclay Tagg and he said the horse is often very stiff in the morning. I said 'I'll look at him behind the gate' and he looked perfect."
Showing Up is owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson, the same people who own Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby winner who suffered a career-ending injury in the Preakness.
"Did [Beck] think I'd take a horse for the Barbaro people to a Grade 1 in California and go to all that trouble and all that expense if I thought he had a chance of breaking a leg?" Tagg said. "Look at the position it put me in; all day long I'm thinking, what do I do? I've got to tell the [Jacksons] he's trying to scratch the horse. If I keep forcing the issue and he does let him run and he breaks a leg, then I'm a real [idiot]. It made me very uncomfortable all day long and I had complete confidence that the horse was fine."
Beck said Showing Up took a couple of bad steps after being unsaddled, and for that reason he put the horse on the vet's list for a 10-day period. If Showing Up were to make his next start in Southern California, he would have to work five furlongs in 1:03 or faster in front of Beck or an official Southern California vet.
Adding to Tagg's displeasure on the day was the difficulty he and the Jacksons had getting a comfortable place to sit for the race. After being forced to move out of a couple of box seats, Tagg said he and the Jacksons were escorted to a box that was unkempt. Tagg and the Jacksons ultimately found a different place to sit.
Three rehearsals for 'Shobiz'
Tagg said that Remsen Stakes winner Nobiz Like Shobiz would likely make three starts prior to the Kentucky Derby on May 5.
Tagg mentioned two possible scenarios that both start with the Grade 3, $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 3 at Gulfstream Park. Under one scenario, Nobiz Like Shobiz could go to the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on March 10 and then the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 7. A second scenario could include the Fountain of Youth on March 3 and then the Wood.
Tagg said the Wood Memorial is logical because Nobiz Like Shobiz already showed a fondness for Aqueduct's main track with his 6 1/2-length Remsen score.
"If it's horrible weather up here or they're having trouble with the track I'll just go in the Florida Derby," Tagg said.
Another big weekend?
Before he ships everything to south Florida for the winter, Tagg still has some live runners to start at Aqueduct. He will be represented in all three stakes scheduled for Saturday's card.
Tagg will run Grade 2 winner Stormy Kiss in the $65,000 Garland of Roses Stakes, and also plans to run Blue Sky God in the $65,000 Capote Stakes for juveniles and Auguri in the $65,000 Coyote Lakes at 1 1/2 miles.
Stormy Kiss won the Grade 2 Honorable Miss at Saratoga before finishing a well-beaten third to Dubai Escapade in the Grade 1 Ballerina and a close third in the Grade 3 Floral Park Handicap. She has been freshened since the Floral Park, run Sept. 16, and worked a bullet five furlongs in 59.67 seconds last Saturday at Belmont.
"She had a great work the other day," Tagg said. "I'm pleased with her. It's a six-furlong race, there's no purse to it, but I think she's doing well right now."
Others looking at the Garland of Roses include Magnolia Jackson, Notimetoquit, Career Oriented, Great Intentions, Evasive, and Zippy Shannon.
Jara, Romero to split up in February
Despite his tremendous success this year, including wins in the Breeders' Cup Classic and Belmont Stakes, jockey Fernando Jara will not renew his contract with agent Randy Romero when it expires on Feb. 5.
Aside from confirming that he will make a change, Jara declined to comment on the situation. It is expected that Jara will hire Gatewood Bell as his replacement. Bell is the son of Jim Bell, president of Darley USA, and has also worked part-time for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, for whom Jara has had most of his success.
Jara did say that he has not decided if he will winter in New York or Florida.
Romero, a former jockey who has been fighting kidney and liver disease for years, said he would return to Kentucky to spend some time with his family and then start the process of looking for another rider.
"I'm upset, but what are you gonna do?" Romero said. "It's life and you gotta go on. I hope the best for the Bells and for Kiaran and for Fernando."