Aqueduct, 8th Race - April 7, 2007
OZONE PARK, N.Y. -- Nobiz Like Shobiz certainly likes the bright lights of Broadway. Now, he will try to be a showstopper underneath the twin spires of Churchill Downs.
Rebounding from a disappointing performance in last month's Fountain of Youth, Nobiz Like Shobiz restored his reputation as a top-flight Kentucky Derby candidate with a professional half-length victory over Sightseeing in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. It was 3 1/4 lengths back to Any Given Saturday in third.
Five months ago, Nobiz Like Shobiz won the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes over this same main track. Nobiz Like Shobiz became the ninth horse to win both the Remsen and Wood. Six of the previous eight ran in the Kentucky Derby and two - Johnstown (1939) and Pleasant Colony (1981) - won it. This year's Derby is May 5.
Equipped with blinkers for the first time, Nobiz Like Shobiz didn't show any of the immature tendencies that he had earlier in his career, including when he finished third in the Fountain of Youth. Though Nobiz Like Shobiz came out a little bit in the stretch, it was under Cornelio Velasquez's left-handed whip more than anything the horse did.
"Different horse today," Velasquez said. "He ran better. It put him in the race [earlier]. Last time he came in a little bit, today he ran straight."
Breaking from the rail, Nobiz Like Shobiz was part of a four-horse scramble for the lead entering the first turn. Around the turn, Velasquez was tugging on Nobiz Like Shobiz to get him off the pace and let Flashstorm and Summer Doldrums go.
Nobiz Like Shobiz ($3.40) was only a half-length off the pace after a half-mile run in 47.26 seconds and he quickly rejoined the leaders midway down the backstretch. Nobiz Like Shobiz put his head in front at the three-eighths pole. Any Given Saturday, who had dropped back to fourth under John Velazquez, crept alongside Nobiz Like Shobiz at the quarter pole but Nobiz Like Shobiz ran away him from in deep stretch.
Nobiz Like Shobiz, a son of Albert the Great, owned and bred by Elizabeth Valando, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.26.
"We had five weeks to work with him," trainer Barclay Tagg said. "All his works were good, he did everything properly the whole five weeks. . . . He responded well to everything we asked him to do and today it showed up.
"I had a pretty good feeling about him today. I thought that he would do what he did. I would have been really disappointed if he didn't."
While pleased with Sightseeing's performance, trainer Shug McGaughey said he would be inclined to skip the Kentucky Derby, but perhaps point for the Preakness.
Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Any Given Saturday, said he was a little disappointed that his horse slowed down at the three-sixteenths pole, but that he may have felt the effects of coming back three weeks after losing the Tampa Bay Derby by a nose to Street Sense. He will go on to the Kentucky Derby.
Aqueduct, 7th Race - April 7, 2007
Bay Shore: Bill Place finishes strong
Bill Place ($7.50), shuffled back to last at the five-sixteenths pole, rallied down the center of the main track under Velasquez to wear down Hobbitontherocks and win the Grade 3, $150,000 Bay Shore Stakes by a neck. Hobbitontherocks, who took the lead at the quarter pole, finished second by 2 3/4 lengths over 3-5 favorite Les Grands Trois, who broke poorly.
It was the fourth win from seven starts for Bill Place, a Florida-bred son of Master Bill, who also won the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes in January. He is owned by Michael Dubb and Sanford Goldfarb and trained by Tony Dutrow.
Bill Place rallied widest of all, and despite drifting out in the stretch was able to get up in time. He covered seven furlongs in 1:22.99.