01/01/2007 1:00AM

Nobiz Like Shobiz gets back to work


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - While New Year's morning was an easy one for the majority of the horses stabled in and around south Florida this winter, such was not the case for Nobiz Like Shobiz, who celebrated his third birthday Monday at Gulfstream by working - four furlongs in 49.50 seconds under regular rider Cornelio Velasquez.

Nobiz Like Shobiz, who ended his 2-year-old campaign at or near the top of everybody's list of 2007 Kentucky Derby contenders, ran fractions of 12.82 seconds, 24.34, and 37.06, and galloped out an easy five furlongs in 1:03.47. The work was the first for the son of Albert the Great since his impressive 6 1/2-length triumph in Aqueduct's Grade 2 Remsen on Nov. 25.

"I wanted him to go in 48 and change, but it didn't really matter," trainer Barclay Tagg said after Nobiz Like Shobiz had finished cooling out back at the barn. "I just wanted to let him stretch out, and he went good. I like to have Cornelio work him when I can because he's light, he knows the horse well, and he's the one who has to be satisfied with the way he's going."

Tagg's first objective with Nobiz Like Shobiz this winter is the one-mile Holy Bull Stakes here on Feb. 3.

"I freshened him up pretty good after the Remsen, and he's put a little weight on," said Tagg. "I'm hoping to get five works into him before the Holy Bull, although we got a little bit of a late start. Since he went in 49 this morning I'll probably bring him back in five or six days. I couldn't have done that if he'd gone too fast."

Invasor resumes working

Invasor, the Breeders' Cup Classic winner and leading candidate for Horse of the Year, breezed four furlongs in 49.61 seconds Sunday over Belmont Park's training track. It was his first breeze since he upset Bernardini in the BC Classic on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.

Barry Downes, the regular exercise rider for Invasor, said the colt felt very much the same to him Sunday as he had most of last year, and that's what he relayed to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who was in south Florida.

"He is what he is," Downes said. "You got to ask him a little bit. He breezed on his own, which we don't do very often. We [usually] put him in company to give him that little bit of an edge. He was great up to the quarter pole, and I was like, 'C'mon let's get going.' He's just too smart, you know. But all in all he's doing great.''

Though he is training at Belmont, Invasor is being pointed to the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 3. The Donn is scheduled as a prep for the $6 million Dubai World Cup at Nad al Sheba in Dubai on March 31.

Invasor shipped to the Palm Meadows training center in Florida after the Breeders' Cup. But McLaughlin shipped him and Belmont Stakes winner Jazil back to Belmont on Dec. 24, fearing that an outbreak of equine herpesvirus in several parts of Florida could lead to a state-wide shipping ban.

McLaughlin said Invasor would work again Sunday at Belmont and that he would have weekly discussions with Shadwell Stable racing manager Rich Nichols on when the horse would ship back to south Florida.

Catching the bus to the bank

Horseplayers looking for an infusion when they tap out of available cash during a day of racing at Gulfstream Park should be aware of a state law that came into effect since the track began offering slots in November. Automatic teller machines and credit-card cash advances are not permitted at racino facilities in the state, which has forced Gulfstream to institute some rather arcane measures for fans needing to get their hands on some quick cash.

Gulfstream will allow fans to cash checks, but only through a third-party facilitator (for a 5 percent fee) at the first-floor south box office. And the track will actually offer a shuttle service that will take fans off the track property to their choice of two bank branches on nearby Hallandale Beach Boulevard. Signs alerting fans to the fact that there are no available cash-dispensing machines on the property are being placed throughout the track.

"We know it's going to put some people out, but these are the rules we have to abide by," said track spokesman Mike Mullaney.

Banishing ATMs and credit-card advances is part of the legislation that allowed Gulfstream to begin offering slots. The legislation is designed to prevent problem gamblers from having easy access to funds.

Sciametta a name to remember

The name Anthony Sciametta Jr. might be unfamiliar to patrons when the Gulfstream meet opens Wednesday. But there's a good chance that name will be atop the trainer standings for most of the meet's first month.

Sciametta is the south Florida trainer of record for all horses coming out of the barn of reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, who is serving a 45-day suspension for a positive drug test this summer at Saratoga. Pletcher's suspension ends on Feb. 10. Until then he is not allowed on the grounds of any racetrack or racetrack-sponsored training facility.

Sciametta held his own trainer's license for 10 years before joining Pletcher's operation as an assistant in 2001. Sciametta had moderate success, primarily on the New Jersey circuit, where his best-known horse was the stakes-winning turf runner Cogburn.

"It's really just my name on the program," Sciametta said prior to saddling Tempt Fortune and Sweet Brush to a one-two finish in Saturday's final race at Calder. "These are all Todd's horses, and they're going to be again as soon as he's eligible to come back. A lot of people have asked me if I'm thinking about going back out on my own again after all this. But believe me, when the month is up I'm going right back to doing my job with Todd."

Racecaller Collmus steps up

Wednesday marks a milestone in the race-calling career of Larry Collmus, who is taking over at Gulfstream.

"Any time you get to call the kinds of races that Gulfstream Park has, it's something you really look forward to," he said.

Collmus, 40, called his first race at the old Bowie Race Course in his native Maryland in 1985. His first full-time announcing position was at the old Birmingham Race Course in Alabama in 1987. He since has gone on to call races at Golden Gate Fields (1988-91) in northern California and has been the full-time announcer at Suffolk Downs since 1992 and at Monmouth Park since 1994.

"Having done this since I was 18 years old, this is like an announcer's dream," he said.

Collmus was named in November to replace Vic Stauffer, who had called the last seven years at Gulfstream.

Ex-Kentucky race official starts anew here

Bernie Hettel, arguably the most respected and powerful racing official in Kentucky racing over the last two decades, will return to active duty Wednesday, serving as an association steward at Gulfstream. The new position is the first at a racetrack for Hettel since he was ousted in January 2004 by incoming Kentucky governor Ernie Fletcher from his long-held positions as chief steward and executive director of what formerly was known as the Kentucky Racing Commission (since replaced by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority).

In the nearly three years since he resigned, Hettel, 56, has worked as a consultant, first for the Magna Entertainment Corp. which owns Gulfstream, and then privately for the last 18 months or so. His ties with Magna led to his hiring as a steward for the Gulfstream meet.

"The consulting business actually was working out pretty well," said Hettel, who said he essentially served as an adviser to people throughout the United States "who believed they had been aggrieved in some fashion by stewards or racing commissions. It mostly entailed telling people how best to proceed with their protests and writing letters of inquiry or responses for people seeking relief from racing commissions or the courts."

Hettel said he is happy to be back into live racing. "Being able to come down here to south Florida is a convergence of all good things," he said.

- additional reporting by David Grening and Marty McGee