02/01/2007 12:00AM

Nobiz Like Shobiz heads Holy Bull


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Nobiz Like Shobiz is widely regarded as the best 2-year-old who didn't run in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile. But that has done nothing to hinder his reputation. He is considered one of the leading contenders for the Kentucky Derby, and just might move to the top of the leader board on Saturday, when he makes his first start of the year in the Grade 3, $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

The Holy Bull has undergone several permutations in recent years, but has retained its importance as a key early season prep for the Derby. It was run at 1 1/8 miles last year, when it was won by Barbaro, who subsequently won the Derby. This year, the Holy Bull has been shortened to a one-turn mile, making it a better way to move along 3-year-olds to Gulfstream's major 1 1/8-mile Derby preps, the Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Florida Derby.

Regardless of the distance, Nobiz Like Shobiz is the horse to beat. He made a dazzling debut in September when he won a one-turn mile at Belmont Park, then gained plenty of admirers by finishing second in the Champagne Stakes after getting roughed up at the start. Trainer Barclay Tagg then skipped the Breeders' Cup to instead await the Remsen Stakes on Nov. 25, which Nobiz Like Shobiz won in a runaway.

"If he had come back in the Breeders' Cup, I couldn't have done some of the things I wanted with him," Tagg said. "It was a tough race. I doubt he could have beaten Street Sense, and all running him there would have done is screwed him up for this."

Nobiz Like Shobiz drew the outside post in the field of eight on Thursday.

"He ought to be able to stay out of trouble out there," Tagg's assistant, Robin Smullen, said after the post draw.

"He's good and fit," Tagg said. "He just has to do it."

Nobiz Like Shobiz is an imposing horse, but he glides along effortlessly when in motion, like in his final workout here Wednesday morning.

"He does it awful easy," Tagg said.

Scat Daddy, who was making his fourth career start when he beat Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Champagne, looms the main threat. After the Champagne, Scat Daddy finished fourth in the BC Juvenile. A return to a one-turn mile - the same conditions as the Champagne - should benefit Scat Daddy.

Scat Daddy will be racing in the name of trainer Anthony Sciametta, the Florida assistant to Todd Pletcher, who is suspended through Feb. 9. In an interview before he went on suspension, Pletcher said he thought Scat Daddy did not perform at his best in the Breeders' Cup because he was coming back just three weeks after the Champagne.

Sciametta also sends out Sam P., who won a first-level allowance in a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs in his last start on Nov. 25.

Bold Start won a first-level allowance going a mile at Gulfstream on Jan. 13 for trainer Kenny McPeek. He got a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 92 that day.

Trainer Bill Kaplan, who won last week's Sunshine Millions Dash, will try to win his second rich 3-year-old race in eight days here with Drums of Thunder, who captured the What a Pleasure at Calder on Dec. 2. He has won 3 of his last 4 starts, and has raced 8 times overall, but this will be his first race away from Calder.

One of the Best is seeking his third straight win, but both those previous victories came on the turf.