08/30/2007 12:00AM

Nobiz continues his turf career


Trainer Barclay Tagg figured Nobiz Like Shobiz needed a change of pace.

The Wood Memorial winner was running down, burning his heels on the main track, and it was affecting his performance.

Tagg switched the colt to grass for his last outing, and Nobiz Like Shobiz responded with a half-length victory in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga.

"I thought he looked pretty happy on it, pretty competitive on it," Tagg said. "He didn't run down at all on turf. He liked it enough to do his job."

Having regained his winning form, Nobiz Like Shobiz faces a strong, deep field Saturday in the Grade 3, $500,000 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park.

The 1 1/8-mile stakes attracted most of the leading 3-year-old turf runners on the East Coast, including Colonial Turf Cup winner Summer Doldrums, Jersey Derby winner Buddy's Humor, Tropical Park Derby winner Soldier's Dancer, and Strike a Deal.

Since the Hall of Fame, Nobiz Like Shobiz has worked three times at Saratoga, including two grass drills. His most recent effort was a five-furlong bullet work in 58.64 seconds on the Oklahoma training turf course Monday.

"He breezed well - a little faster than I wanted, but he did it easily," Tagg said.

Javier Castellano rides for the first time, because regular pilot Cornelio Velasquez has a pair of Grade 1 mounts Saturday at Saratoga: Chatain in the Forego and Political Force in the Suburban.

Strike a Deal has been the tough-luck horse in the 3-year-old turf division, losing the Colonial Turf Cup by a head and the Virginia Derby by a nose.

"He's doing very well," said trainer Alan Goldberg. "He's had some tough beats, but he always ran his race."

For Goldberg, the toughest loss was the Virginia Derby on July 21 at Colonial Downs.

"I had a bad angle to watch to the race," Goldberg said. "I couldn't tell if he won or lost."

After finishing fifth in his debut on dirt last August, Strike a Deal has 3 wins and 3 seconds on the turf.

He scored stakes wins in the Laurel Futurity in his final start at 2 and the Straight Deal at Belmont to start this season - a key race in which he defeated Summer Doldrums to set the stage for their rematch in the Colonial Turf Cup.

Goldberg thinks the cut back in distance to 1 1/8 miles could give Strike a Deal the edge after running 1 3/16 miles and 1 1/4 miles in his last two.

"I think this is probably going to be real good for him," Goldberg said. "I'm hoping this hits him right in the head. He might have got a little late and those distances took his kick away a little bit. He should have a pretty good kick at a mile and an eighth."

* Tagg will be looking for a stakes double at Delaware with Greenstreet in the $100,000 Go for Wand for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. She has run three times at the meet, winning the Polly's Jet Stakes on May 12. Most recently, Greenstreet was sixth in the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks.

- additional reporting

by David Grening