08/31/2006 11:00PM

Man o' War is Showing Up's best option

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Trainer Barclay Tagg said he would rather run 3-year-old Showing Up against older horses at his home base, Belmont Park, than ship to Woodbine for the Sky Classic.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Showing Up, arguably the leading 3-year-old turf horse in the country, will take on older horses for the first time in next Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park, trainer Barclay Tagg said.

Following Showing Up's front-running victory in the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington Park on Aug. 12, Tagg said he was torn between the Man o' War and the $300,000 Sky Classic at Woodbine on Sept. 17 for the colt's next start.

"I'd rather lead him over than ship him," said Tagg, referring to the fact Showing Up is based at Belmont. "If there's a glitch and he's not able to run, we can always go to Canada. Both races are similar conditions, but one's a Grade 1 and worth twice as much."

A strong performance by Showing Up would most likely earn him a berth in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

"If he wins that, I'll put him in the Breeders' Cup Turf," Tagg said.

Tagg said Showing Up's performance in the Secretariat, where he led from gate to wire, left him in awe.

"I expected him to run well, but I thought it was an amazing race,'' he said. "I didn't even cheer, I just stood there and stared at him.''

Showing Up, who also won the $1 million Colonial Turf Cup in June in his other turf start, has already breezed twice since the Secretariat, including a five-furlong move in 1:01.97 on soft turf on Wednesday.

The Man o' War could come up a terrific race. Among those pointing to the race are Cacique, Cosmonaut, Go Deputy, Musketier, Ramazutti, and Relaxed Gesture. Silver Whistle and Sky Conqueror are possible.

After Market will wait

Those who would argue against Showing Up being the leading 3-year-old turf horse in the country would probably go with After Market, the Bill Mott-trained colt who is undefeated in four career starts, all on turf.

After Market was scheduled to run in Saturday's $500,000 Kent Breeders' Cup at Delaware Park, but that race was postponed until next Saturday due to Tropical Storm Ernesto. Mott had the option of running After Market in Sunday's $100,000 Saranac Stakes here, but decided he will wait for the richer Kent.

"He's ready to run this morning,'' Mott said Friday. "He's sharp as jailhouse coffee. I don't know if [another] week is to his benefit. The way he was acting this morning, I wish the race were tomorrow."

Mott will still be represented in the Saranac by Desert Wheat, who finished fourth but was awarded third-place purse money in the American Derby at Arlington last out.

Wild Fit breezes in blinkers

Wild Fit, who finished second in the BC Juvenile Fillies at Belmont last fall, is expected to return to Belmont for her next start in Saturday's Grade 1 Gazelle Stakes.

In her last start, Wild Fit finished last of four in a second-level allowance race here where she was the 1-5 favorite. Wild Fit hit the gate in that race, and, according to trainer Patrick Biancone, displaced two ribs.

On Friday, she breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 over Saratoga's main track. She worked in company with another horse and was equipped with blinkers for the first time. Biancone said he has not yet decided if Wild Fit will wear blinkers in the Gazelle.

"She worked good this morning, I was happy with her,'' Biancone said. "The race the other day doesn't count. She hurt herself coming out of the gate. When we bought her last fall, the goal was to get her ready for the Breeders' Cup. I had a year to get her there.''

Wild Fit got severely sick in the spring and it took several months to get her back to the races. Biancone is hoping that Wild Fit is on the right path now.

"She may hit her form at the right time,'' he said.

The Gazelle, run at 1 1/8 miles, is expected to mark the return of multiple Grade 1 winner Bushfire, who has not raced since taking the Mother Goose at Belmont on July 1.

Noble Stella coming for Glens Falls

Multiple stakes winner Noble Stella is scheduled to return from a short midsummer layoff in Monday's Grade 3 Glens Falls Handicap here.

Noble Stella, a 5-year-old mare trained by Roger Attfield for owner Gary Tanaka, has not raced since she finished fifth of six, beaten 5 3/4 lengths, in the nine-furlong Dance Smartly on July 15 at Woodbine.

"She's run well all year, and then I tried to shorten her back here at Woodbine and that didn't work out very well for us, so I just freshened her up for a good fall," Attfield said. "She's doing well."

Noble Stella won the 1 1/2-mile Bewitch at Keeneland in April, ran second to Honey Ryder in the 1 3/8-mile Sheepshead Bay at Belmont on May 27, then beat Angara by a neck over soft turf in the New York BC Handicap, a 1 1/4-mile race at Belmont on June 24.

Attfield said Noble Stella, a German-bred daughter of Monsun, struggled in the Dance Smartly.

"She won that race last year, but it didn't work this year," he said. "I had her too sharp, actually, and she was very rank. I tried to get her sharp to shorten her back and I probably didn't help her cause that much. She came out of it well. She's quite a slight filly and I wanted to give her a little bit of time to put some weight back on to run through the fall.''

Mike Smith will ride Noble Stella in the Glens Falls.

Hauswald changes careers

Speaking of Mike Smith, the Hall of Fame jockey will have a new agent when racing returns to Belmont next Friday.

Phil Hauswald announced Friday that he will give up training horses to become Smith's agent. Hauswald, 48, trained horses for 21 years and was best known as the trainer of Epitome, the champion 2-year-old filly of 1987. Other top horses he trained were Demons Begone, Banker's Lady, Middlesex Drive, and Cloakof Vagueness.

Hauswald said the economics of the game made it difficult for him to succeed as a trainer. Since 2000, Hauswald has averaged eight wins a year and in 2006 he is only 1 for 34. Hauswald had one horse to run Saturday and is expected to start his final horse Monday in Another Punch.

"It was really, really a tough decision, and you feel like you're giving up on a dream, but that's not really the case,'' Hauswald said. "It's gotten to where the economics of the business make it really tough to make a living training eight or 10 horses. If there's somebody making money just on a day rate, they got to show me how to do it.''

Smith has struggled at Saratoga winning just two races from 49 mounts. He did win 25 races during the Belmont spring meet.

"I really appreciate Mike giving me the opportunity,'' Hauswald said. "It's not like I'll be walking around with somebody nobody's ever heard of. He's in the Hall of Fame and I'll try to get him back to getting on a few live mounts.''

- additional reporting by Mike Kane