04/24/2006 12:00AM

Nice horse, but not for the Derby

Showing Up earned a nice win in the Lexington, but he finished in slow time and earned just a 99 Beyer.

NEW YORK - Showing Up has more of a license than many to turn into a very nice horse. He must, after his victory in Saturday's Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.

The Lexington was Showing Up's first start in a stakes race. It was his first race over a track other than Gulfstream Park. Showing Up conceded critical racing experience to his opponents. The Lexington was Showing Up's first start around two turns. And yet even with the stretch out in distance, he managed to come from farther off the pace than he did when he won his first two starts.

Despite all of this, Showing Up was a decisive winner Saturday. Of course, the Lexington was not the greatest field of 3-year-olds assembled since the 1957 Kentucky Derby; you know, the one with Bold Ruler, Round Table, and Gallant Man. Showing Up did benefit from the widely anticipated pace battle between Fast Parade and Like Now, who was game to hold on for second. But given all the new factors he had to overcome, and with the style in which he did it, it is clear that Showing Up is a colt with a future.

The problem is, when a 3-year-old wins a graded-stakes race this time of year, he is automatically assessed by Kentucky Derby standards. And when Showing Up is measured this way, the outlook is not as bright.

Showing Up only ran fast enough in the Lexington to earn a Beyer Speed Figure of 99. While it is true that Giacomo won last year's Kentucky Derby with a Beyer Figure of 100, that was an aberration. In almost every other year, a Beyer Figure of around 100 just will not get it done in the Derby. Three-year-olds can improve dramatically from race to race this time of year. But it is unreasonable to expect Showing Up to improve enough in the two weeks between the Lexington and the Derby to produce the kind of Beyer Figure necessary to win most Kentucky Derbies.

Then there is the matter of the come-home time in the Lexington. The fourth quarter-mile of the Lexington was run in 26.96 seconds, and the last sixteenth was run in 7.38, resulting in a final five-sixteenths in 34.34. Now, the track at Keeneland on Saturday was drying out, and not conducive to quick final times, but that is still very slow. It is easy to make a fairly accurate projection for what the final three furlongs would have been, which is a more familiar fraction to a lot of racing fans, were the Lexington a 1 1/8-mile race instead of the 1 1/16-mile event it is. Let's project another sixteenth of a mile in 7.40, which is generously quick considering the actual final sixteenth, but let's use that, anyway. After factoring in that Showing Up gained about two lengths in the actual final five-sixteenths, you can project a "final" three furlongs for Showing Up of approximately 41.40.

That won't cut it, either. And when you combine that with his lack of 2-year-old experience, Showing Up, as nice a horse as he might turn out to be, just doesn't seem ready for a race like the Kentucky Derby.

Stop talking respect - just earn it

After Magnolia Jackson upset Saturday's Bed o' Roses Breeders' Cup Handicap at Aqueduct, her trainer, Gary Contessa, told the New York Racing Association press office, "Maybe now she'll get a little respect." This lack of respect stuff that you hear in other sports became tiresome a long time ago. It's unfortunate to see it infect this game, and particularly tough to hear from someone who just won a Grade 2, $150,000 stakes race in New York. I liked Magnolia Jackson, but let's be real about this. All she had done was win the listed Correction Handicap and the Broadway Handicap for New York-breds over short fields in the dead of winter at Aqueduct. Was she supposed to be favored over Smuggler, who was last year's champion 3-year-old filly off victories in the Grade 1 Mother Goose and Grade 1 CCA Oaks?

As for Smuggler, it's really difficult to be encouraged with the way she ran in the Bed o' Roses, even allowing for it being her first start in nine months. For one who was going to be a big stretch threat Saturday, she was actually closer to the lead on the far turn than she was through the stretch, and she never got out of fifth and last.

'Fog' still yet to prove himself

Smuggler wasn't the only champion with a failed comeback Saturday. Lost in the Fog, last year's Eclipse Award-winning sprinter, was beaten decisively by Carthage in the Golden Gate Fields Sprint. Carthage did have a recency edge on Lost in the Fog, who was making his first start since he gave way in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, and Carthage was coming off three sharp wins. Then again, Carthage has never even competed in a graded stakes, and a horse who is as good as Lost in the Fog is supposed to be should have made short work of him.

But Lost in the Fog fans had reason to think twice last week when the colt's camp lowered expectations by saying the champ was not ready for a top race. That seemed a bit odd considering Lost in the Fog had four fast bullet workouts in the last four weeks.

If you're still waiting for Lost in the Fog to prove himself against a horse of established quality, it looks like the wait will be a bit longer. His people say they are looking forward to a rematch with Carthage, which might come on June 4 in the Bay Meadows BC Sprint.