04/15/2007 11:00PM

Boca Grande to pass Kentucky Oaks


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - One week after announcing he would be skipping the Kentucky Derby with Wood Memorial runner-up Sightseeing, trainer Shug McGaughey said Monday he most likely would skip the Kentucky Oaks with Comely Stakes winner Boca Grande.

Boca Grande came out of her victory in Saturday's Grade 2 Comely in good shape, but McGaughey has his focus more on the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes here on June 9 than the Oaks. The Black-Eyed Susan, a $250,000 race on May 18 at Pimlico, is also a possibility.

"I'm more inclined to run her in the Acorn than using the longer races," McGaughey said Monday outside his Belmont Park barn, but added such races as the Oaks or Black-Eyed Susan "[are] not outside the realm of possibility. She would have to really bounce out of this race big time and show a lot of improvement. I'm not inclined to go down there [to Churchill] and run her in a big field. I don't know whether mentally she's prepared for that."

McGaughey said the Oaks would have been a stronger possibility had Boca Grande thrived during the winter in Florida. But McGaughey didn't like the way she trained at Gulfstream, and then Boca Grande finished a dull sixth of seven in the Grade 2 Forward Gal.

"I was hoping the thing in Florida would work out better than it did," McGaughey said. "Then I could have gone on from there and run her in the Ashland or the Fantasy where I would have had confidence. But after that race I wouldn't have had any confidence running her there."

McGaughey said "he was tickled to death" with Boca Grande's performance in the Comely. Boca Grande had to steady slightly entering the far turn, but then re-rallied to run past Perfect Forest inside the furlong marker and hold off a slow-starting Winning Point. Boca Grande won the Comely by 1 1/2 lengths and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 86. Boca Grande closed on Sunday as the fourth betting choice (13-1) in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Oaks future wager.

Sightseeing to Preakness or Peter Pan next

McGaughey said he has had no second thoughts about his decision to skip the Derby with Sightseeing, who likely will make his next start in either the Preakness on May 19 or the Peter Pan at Belmont on May 20.

"I don't know what I'll do, but I would think probably Preakness or Peter Pan," McGaughey said. "I still think with him my deal is to watch these races just like we sort of did with the Wood, see what looks like the best spot with kind of the Jim Dandy to point for."

The Jim Dandy is run July 29 at Saratoga as a stepping-stone to the Travers.

McGaughey believes Sightseeing could really flourish with more time, something he's already begun to see in the colt's training since the Wood.

"He came out of this race really well," McGaughey said. "I think he's getting out of his races what you would hope they would get out of them in his learning process. He seems to be pretty professional. It's been a little bit hard training him with the [wet] weather, but we have been going and I've liked what I've seen."

Weather puts Nobiz Like Shobiz work back a day

The wet weather McGaughey was referring to is forcing trainer Barclay Tagg to push back by a day his work schedule for Wood winner Nobiz Like Shobiz. Tagg was planning to give Nobiz the first of three pre-Kentucky Derby workouts on Tuesday, but planned to push that back to Wednesday. Overall, however, Tagg said the weather has not affected his schedule too much.

"I'm going to put his first little breeze off for an extra day, but that won't hurt me any because it would put me one day closer to the Derby," Tagg said. "Unless I get another bad storm on a work day it won't hurt me at all."

Heavy rains pelted the area Sunday and lingering showers were forecast Monday and Tuesday. The track was sealed and muddy on Monday, a dark day.

Tagg said Nobiz Like Shobiz had a "real light gallop" on Monday after jogging on Sunday. If Tagg is able to stay with his revised schedule, Nobiz Like Shobiz would have his final workout for the Derby the Monday before the race and would ship to Louisville that Wednesday.

Hopes sky high for Showing Up

Tagg said that Showing Up, who lost by a neck to Kip Deville in Friday's Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland, would likely skip the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve on Derby Day and train up to the Grade 1 Manhattan on Belmont Day.

Though Tagg said Showing Up came out of the Maker's Mark "real good," he thinks the Manhattan might fit better into what he hopes is a championship campaign for Showing Up.

"If I can win a Grade 1 in New York in the spring and win another one in the fall and be lucky enough to win the Breeders' Cup, I think I'd be in good shape," Tagg said.

Elusive Warning to Withers

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has juggled his lineup for the Withers Stakes, electing to run Elusive Warning in that Grade 3 race on April 28 while opting to ship Wafi City to Kentucky for one of two stakes races.

Wafi City, the runner-up in the Gotham, was shipped to Keeneland last week where he could run in Saturday's Lexington Stakes or wait for the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs on April 28.

"Wafi City has some feet that bother him sometimes and we felt Polytrack would be a better track to train on," said McLaughlin, who trains both horses for Darley Stable. "They have similar form and Elusive Warning ran a freakish number on the Ragozin sheets last time. We've got to step him up and test him."

Elusive Warning, a son of Elusive Quality, is 2 for 2, having won a maiden six-furlong race on Feb. 24 by 7 1/2 lengths and a first-level allowance sprint on March 30 by five. In the latter race, Elusive Warning earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

On Saturday, Elusive Warning worked four furlongs in 47.49 seconds over the Belmont Park training track.o