04/02/2006 11:00PM

Barbaro's owners excited by the prospect of a second Derby horse

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Barclay Tagg has high hopes for Showing Up.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Roy and Gretchen Jackson have already made their reservations for Louisville, Ky. They're just not sure how many will be in their party.

The Jacksons, who race under the Lael Stables banner, are the owners of Barbaro, who assured his status as one of the favorites for the May 6 Kentucky Derby by winning last Saturday's $1 million Florida Derby. The Jacksons also own Showing Up, who will try to earn a position in the Derby starting gate when he runs in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

"We'll take as many as you can get," Roy Jackson said Monday afternoon. "It's just a dream come true if one gets there; that's what you're sort of dreaming about all along. Hope they both get there."

While Barbaro is undefeated in five starts and has won four stakes, Showing Up has won his only two career starts impressively and will make his stakes debut in the Wood. While it would seem out of character for the usually conservative Barclay Tagg to take a horse to the Derby off of three career starts, the trainer believes his horse has earned the shot to try the Wood.

"You got to be a little excited about him," Tagg said Monday from Gulfstream. "He's just done everything we've asked. There's a lot of questions. I don't know if he'll go two turns or any of that stuff. He hasn't shown me he can't. I'm just lucky he came along."

Tagg, who trained 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide, purchased Showing Up for $60,000 at the Fasig-Tipton 2-year-old in training sales at Timonium last May. Tagg attended that sale to buy one horse for a different client, but saw two more he liked. Having no one specifically to buy them for, Tagg called up the Jacksons, who said yes, provided Tagg didn't go over budget.

"He fell into the price range," said Jackson, who also spent $90,000 in that sale for Klepto Cat, who finished sixth in her debut Sunday at Gulfstream.

Tagg couldn't get Showing Up to the races as a 2-year-old. According to Robin Smullen, Tagg's assistant, Showing Up had shin problems when he first came in. After overcoming those problems, Showing Up would often pull up lame after galloping at the Fair Hill training center in Maryland.

When he arrived in Florida, however, Showing Up began to train better and sounder.

Showing Up won his debut on Feb. 11 by four lengths, running 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.68 and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 97. Tagg scratched him out of the Swale on March 4 because he wanted to run Showing Up in a one-mile allowance race the following week. Showing Up won that one by 2 1/2 lengths, running a mile in 1:34.05 and earning a 100 Beyer.

Though Javier Castellano rode Showing Up in his first two starts, Cornelio Velasquez rides him on Saturday. Tagg had secured Velasquez before it became known that Castellano's first-call in the Wood, Corinthian, would miss the race due to injury.

Showing Up completed preparations for the Wood on Sunday by working five furlongs in 1:00.80 at Gulfstream. A scheduling snafu forced Showing Up to miss a flight on Sunday. Thus, he left Gulfstream on a van Monday morning and was scheduled to arrive at Belmont Park on Tuesday.

Showing Up is expected to face eight rivals in the Wood. They are: Bob and John, Deputy Glitters, Greeley's Legacy, Keyed Entry, Like Now, Niagara Causeway, Platinum Couple, and Scanlon's Song.

Bob and John, trained by Bob Baffert, worked six furlongs in 1:11.20 on Sunday at Santa Anita and was scheduled to fly here Wednesday. Keyed Entry, the Hutcheson winner who was beaten a neck in the Gotham, worked five furlongs in 1:01.86 Sunday over Belmont's training track.

Happy Hunting returns in Carter

After reeling off a four-race win streak that culminated in the Grade 3 Aqueduct Handicap in January, Happy Hunting earned a well-deserved winter break. That vacation ends Saturday when the royally bred 5-year-old returns in the Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap at seven furlongs.

Happy Hunting, a son of Seeking the Gold owned and bred by the Phipps Stable, wintered at trainer Shug McGaughey's Payson Park stable. McGaughey had thought about running him in the General George Handicap, but that race was canceled because of the outbreak of equine herpesvirus in Maryland. McGaughey and Ogden Phipps decided to skip the Stymie on March 4 in hopes of having a fresh horse for the remainder of the year.

"I thought this would be a good place to bring him back and see where we're at," McGaughey said Monday from Florida. "Seven-eighths is probably a little bit short for him, but he worked a real good five-eighths on the training track [Sunday] morning. I do think the time off really helped him."

Happy Hunting worked five furlongs in 59.62 seconds Sunday over the training track, the fastest of 24 breezes at the distance.

Mike Smith is scheduled to ride Happy Hunting, who was assigned 115 pounds. Silver Train, the defending Breeders' Cup Sprint winner, is the 120-pound highweight for the Carter. Also expected for the Carter are Mass Media (118), Sir Greeley (116), Kazoo (115), Call the Lord (114), and Big Apple Daddy (113).

Songster's stock rises for Bay Shore

Even without leaving his stall, Songster enhanced his credentials for Saturday's $150,000 Bay Shore Stakes. After winning his debut on Jan. 28, Songster finished second in an entry-level allowance race on March 4 at Gulfstream Park.

The horse that beat him that day, Exclusive Quality, won last Saturday's Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream. Protagonus, who finished third in the March 4 race, won an allowance race on Saturday, also at Gulfstream.

Songster arrived in New York on Sunday from south Florida along with stablemate Deputy Glitters, who is running in the Wood. Songster will likely be second choice in the Grade 3 Bay Shore behind California shipper Too Much Bling, who won the San Miguel and San Vicente this year. Others pointing to the Bay Shore are Devil's Concierge, Changing Weather, and possibly Beacon Shine, The Pharaoh, and Trailing Twelve.

Storm Minstrel wins Fickle Fanny

Storm Minstrel received a perfect ground-saving stalking trip from Ramon Dominguez, and drew off from stablemate Slew Motion to win Sunday's $61,500 Fickle Fanny Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths. Slew Motion, held second by three lengths over pace-prompter Sweet Sweet.

Storm Minstrel, a daughter of Storm Cat owned and bred by Edward Evans, covered the six furlongs in 1:10.41 and paid $5 as the favorite. Richard Dutrow Jr. trains both the first- and second-place finishers.

* Belmont's main track is due to open for training on Wednesday. Training hours will be 6 to 10 a.m. with a harrowing break from 8:15 to 8:45.