Nobiz Like Shobiz a work in progress
OZONE PARK, N.Y. -- Trainer Barclay Tagg believes he's bringing a fitter and more focused Nobiz Like Shobiz to New York for Saturday's Grade 1 Wood Memorial than the one fans saw compete in two graded stakes at Gulfstream Park this winter.
After Nobiz Like Shobiz won the Holy Bull and finished a close third in the Fountain of Youth, Tagg has picked up the tempo in his colt's training. Nobiz Like Shobiz had his third consecutive strong workout Sunday morning at Gulfstream Park, going five furlongs in 59.60 seconds. It was his fourth workout since he finished third, a half-length behind Scat Daddy, in the Fountain of Youth on March 3.
"We trained him pretty hard this month trying to get him focused on running," Tagg said Monday from south Florida.
Focus is perhaps the one thing Nobiz Like Shobiz has lacked in his races. As a 2-year-old, he would lug in during the stretch run of his races. In the Fountain of Youth, Nobiz Like Shobiz ducked out entering the first turn and then ducked in for a couple of strides in the stretch.
Since that race, Tagg has trained Nobiz Like Shobiz in blinkers, equipment the horse will wear for the first time in a race on Saturday.
"He never does anything wrong in the morning, but I think he's a little more focused with the blinkers on," Tagg said.
The presence of Nobiz Like Shobiz and Circular Quay, the Hopeful and Louisiana Derby winner, will keep the Wood field small. As of Monday, the only other confirmed runners were Summer Doldrums, Reptilian Smarts, and Flashstorm. Sightseeing and No Reply are possible, but both are also eligible for a first-level allowance race on the same day.
Tagg would like to see Nobiz Like Shobiz perform like he did in the Holy Bull, which he won without having to exert his best effort.
"I'd like him to win it, I don't want to kill him doing it," Tagg said. "I hope he doesn't have to run head and head the whole way or something like that, desperately diving for the wire, and knock himself out. But I don't think he'll knock himself out. He's pretty fit now. He's got two races under his belt, he's had a good solid bunch of works every six days.
"I don't know what else I can do for him. He's eating well, sleeping well, he's happy, he looks a lot tighter than he was. I feel good about him."
Nobiz Like Shobiz will arrive in New York on Thursday. Circular Quay will also fly up from Florida that day. On Sunday, Circular Quay worked four furlongs in 49.40 seconds at Palm Beach Downs.
Sightseeing on the fence
Sightseeing was credited with a half-mile breeze in 47.46 seconds on Monday morning over Belmont's main track. Trainer Shug McGaughey said he has several options for Sightseeing this weekend, including the Wood, Bay Shore, or a first-level allowance race.
McGaughey said he was "all fired up" about running Sightseeing in the Wood until he saw the way Circular Quay performed in the Louisiana Derby. McGaughey doesn't view Sightseeing as a Kentucky Derby horse.
"I'd like to win a race with him and kind of go on from there," McGaughey said Monday morning outside his Belmont Park barn. "I'm not leaning towards the Wood, but I'm not leaning away from it. I'm just waiting to see what happens."
McGaughey did confirm that Happy Hunting would run against Corinthian and Magna Graduate in Saturday's $200,000 Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap.
Latent Heat coming for Carter
Trainer Bobby Frankel felt the 100 days between the Grade 2 San Carlos and the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap was too much time between races for Latent Heat, which is why he has elected to ship that horse cross-country for Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap.
Latent Heat had a successful winter in Southern California, winning the Grade 1 Malibu in December and the Grade 2 San Carlos in February. Overall, he has won 4 of his last 5 starts, the only loss coming in the Perryville at Keeneland, where he was beaten 13 lengths over the Polytrack.
"He wasn't totally healthy," Frankel said. "It might have been [Polytrack] too, but he wasn't eating and his blood wasn't right."
If you throw out the Perryville, Latent Heat is 4 for 4 at seven furlongs, the distance of the Carter, which serves as a prep for the prestigious Met Mile. There are 51 days between the Carter and the Met Mile, to be run at Belmont on May 28. David Flores will ride Latent Heat.
Latent Heat will be the starting highweight at 119 pounds in a field that is expected to include Keyed Entry (118), Silver Wagon (118), Attila's Storm (117), and Ah Day (114). Possible starters include Wild Jam (114), Will He Shine (114), Nar (113), and Ryan's for Real (113).
Les Grands Trois to make stakes debut
Frankel is also sending his undefeated 3-year-old Les Grands Trois to New York for Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Bay Shore Stakes at seven furlongs.
Les Grands Trois won a maiden race by nine lengths last July at Belmont. He came out of the race with sore shins and also needed surgery to remove a chip out of an ankle. He returned to the races on March 7 at Santa Anita, winning a first-level allowance race at Santa Anita by one length. He ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.06 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 94.
"He only won by a length, but it was easier than that," Frankel said.
The Bay Shore could come up a small field. Inner-track stakes winners Wollaston Bay and Bill Place, as well as Pass the Punch and Hobbitontherocks are likely to run.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said Monday that Out of Gwedda would skip the Bay Shore to run in the $100,000 Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland the same day.
Corinthian to deal with security barn
How Corinthian fares in Saturday's $200,000 Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap may be determined by how he handles his six-hour stint in the Aqueduct security barn before the race.
Off his two victories at Gulfstream Park this winter, Corinthian figures to be the favorite over Magna Graduate in the Excelsior, run at 1o1/8 miles. Corinthian is a hot-blooded horse who has given his connections fits at times. One of those times was last summer at Saratoga when he finished third in a second-level allowance race as the 3-5 favorite. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens recalled how Corinthian was a bad actor at the security barn, where all horses at a New York Racing Association track must report six hours before their race.
"He was as bad as a horse could possibly be," Jerkens said. "We couldn't keep him in the stall. We had to keep him outside the whole time. But hopefully he's a lot stronger now, he'll handle things a little better. He'll still be tough, but I don't think he'll be as bad as he was in Saratoga."
Corinthian didn't seem to have a problem with the Aqueduct security barn in November of 2005, when he won a maiden race by one length.
On Sunday, Corinthian breezed five furlongs in 1:00.07 over Belmont's training track. It was the fastest of 19 works at the distance.
Corinthian will be the starting highweight at 119 pounds in a field that is expected to include Magna Graduate (118), Happy Hunting (115), Naughty New Yorker (115), and Accountforthegold (114). Who What Win (114) is possible.
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