02/23/2007 1:00AM

'Nobiz' gets in a key work


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Barclay Tagg had some concerns about working his Kentucky Derby prospect Nobiz Like Shobiz as scheduled on Friday after watching any number of horses drill half-miles in 46 seconds and five-eighths in 59 here since Wednesday morning. And if Tagg had to postpone the important work, there was a good chance he would also postpone Nobiz Like Shobiz's second start of the year from next Saturday's Grade 2 Fountain of Youth to the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds one week later.

So, to assure the safety of the racetrack on Friday, Tagg looked down his bench and called on an old veteran for some help: none other than his Kentucky Derby winner, Funny Cide.

Tagg sent out Funny Cide, with assistant Robin Smullen aboard, to work three furlongs before the first renovation break. Funny Cide went a little faster than planned, in 35.60 seconds, but Smullen pronounced the track safe upon returning to the barn.

"Robin said it was harder than she'd like, but felt it was safe, and I always go by what she thinks," said Tagg.

So Tagg gave Nobiz Like Shobiz the green light and watched a short while later as his grand-looking 3-year-old breezed a solid six furlongs in 1:11.71 with regular rider Cornelio Velasquez aboard.

"I told Cornelio to go in 1:12, but I can't fire him because I don't have anyone else I want to ride," Tagg quipped shortly after Nobiz Like Shobiz had finished cooling out.

Breaking off at the 5 1/2-furlong pole, Nobiz Like Shobiz went in fractions of 24.37, 36.34, and 48.54 seconds before finishing up a sixteenth of a mile past the wire and galloping out six furlongs in 1:25.06.

"He went in just about even 12-second splits and galloped out well, and you can't ask for much better than that," said Tagg. "I was very pleased, and barring something crazy happening with this racetrack, he'll run in the Fountain of Youth. I really don't want to take him out of town if I don't have to."

As for Funny Cide, Friday's work was his first recorded move since he returned to training earlier this winter.

"He's still got a month of breezing to do before we can think about finding a race," Tagg said of Funny Cide. "I'd like to try him on the turf, and if he comes around quickly maybe we'll run him once here on the grass before the meet ends. If not, I think I might like to try him on the Polytrack at Keeneland."

Jerkens not rushing Blue Bullet

Trainer Allen Jerkens said Friday he is in no rush to throw his undefeated 3-year-old Blue Bullet to the wolves. A son of Red Bullet and a half-brother to the eight-time graded stakes winner Kelly Kip, Blue Bullet is perfect in two starts, having won his debut here by a length before returning to dominate first-level allowance rivals by eight widening lengths earlier this week.

"I'm in no hurry," Jerkens said. "I want to try to do the right thing by him. I'd like to get another allowance race for him, but if not I might wait for the Bay Shore. I also believe he could stretch out. Even though he's bred to be a sprinter, the mare has some distance breeding. His sire, Red Bullet, won the Preakness, and the dam is by John's Gold, who I trained to win four stakes over a mile. The key is if he'll allow himself to be rated, which he seems to do fine in the morning. When he breezes he doesn't really go until you ask him."

Pitts copes with bad break

Trainer Helen Pitts is still smarting over the tough luck she had last weekend in Maryland with Leah's Secret in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap. Leah's Secret reared at the start and broke more than a half-dozen lengths behind her field before rallying to finish fifth, less than four lengths behind the winner, Oprah Winney. The loss snapped a two-race win streak for Leah's Secret, who closed out her 2006 campaign winning the Anne Arundel and Raven Run, a Grade 2.

"I was sick," said Pitts. "How much the best was she in the race? She just got overanxious in the gate, anticipated the break, reared up and hit the back gates when they broke. The starter apologized to me after the race, but it wasn't his fault."

Pitts said Leah's Secret could come back in the Grade 2 Shirley Jones Breeders' Cup Handicap here on March 17, with her ultimate goal this spring the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day, May 5.

Jazil's 'options open'

Jazil, the reigning Belmont Stakes winner and among only a handful of prospective starters for the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 3, worked a half-mile on the turf last weekend at Palm Meadows.

"We just want to keep our options open with him," explained Neal McLaughlin, Kiaran's brother and top assistant. "He still could go in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, but we are getting a little tired of the races not setting up for him and might consider looking to make a change."

Jazil finished a distant second to Corinthian, the prospective favorite for the Gulfstream Park Handicap, under allowance conditioned here earlier this month.