02/03/2007 1:00AM

Nobiz Like Shobiz moves to head of class


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - After getting off Nobiz Like Shobiz following his easy victory in the Grade 3, $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes on Saturday at Gulfstream Park, jockey Cornelio Velasquez said what most everybody will now recognize.

"I think he's the best 3-year-old now," Velasquez said.

Nobiz Like Shobiz ($3.40) made his bid to be the pro-tem leader of the nation's 3-year-olds, and the current favorite for the Kentucky Derby, by overcoming seven rivals and a track that seemed to favor the inside to score a 1 1/2-length victory in the Holy Bull.

The Holy Bull was won last year by Barbaro, who subsequently won the Derby.

Nobiz Like Shobiz has now won three times in four starts. His lone loss came in his second start, the Champagne Stakes, when he was beaten by Scat Daddy. They had a rematch in the Holy Bull, but Scat Daddy could only manage to finish third, 1 1/4 lengths behind runner-up Drums of Thunder.

Barclay Tagg, who trains Nobiz Like Shobiz, said he thought the race "worked out perfectly."

"I couldn't have asked for anything better," Tagg said. "I wanted a good race without stressing him, and I wanted him to win it."

Nobiz Like Shobiz, the outside horse in a field of eight, broke sharply and engaged Scat Daddy through a moderate opening quarter in 23.86 seconds. A swift second quarter in 23.19 resulted in Scat Daddy being asked for more, while Nobiz Like Shobiz breezed alongside.

As the field turned into the stretch, Velasquez asked Nobiz Like Shobiz for more, and he began to draw away, though he remained on his left lead until midstretch. Even after switching back to his right lead, he showed his usual tendency to want to drift in, but his talent carried him home safely.

Nobiz Like Shobiz completed the one-turn mile on the fast main track in 1:35.47.

"I thought he had a good post for a mile out of the chute," Tagg said. "But then everyone was telling me the inside was good. That's all right. He's going to have to overcome things if he wants to win the Triple Crown."

That might have been a slip of the tongue, but Tagg obviously is aiming high.

Nobiz Like Shobiz, by Albert the Great, was bred and is owned by Elizabeth Valando. His next start will be here in the Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 3, or a week later in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on March 10, Tagg said.

Swale: Adore the Gold steps up

Trainer Mike Gorham wanted to use the Grade 2, $150,000 Swale Stakes to find out if Adore the Gold belonged in top company. He got the answer he desired. Adore the Gold, on or near a hot pace throughout, tenaciously fought off Forefathers through the stretch to win the Swale by three-quarters of a length, and earn a shot at the 3-year-old division's leaders next time out.

"This was a big step for him," Gorham said.

Adore the Gold ($7.20) had won 3 of 4 starts, but all his wins had been at Delaware and Laurel. In the Swale, he faced a good field of late-developing 3-year-olds, including favored Cowtown Cat, a $1.5 million 2-year-old buy.

Adore the Gold, Forefathers, and Storm Trust sped through fractions of 22.01 seconds for the opening quarter and 44.69 for a half-mile. Storm Trust was the first to yield, and then Cowtown Cat ranged up four paths wide, with Reata's Rocket outside him.

After the field turned into the stretch, though, Adore the Gold - racing on the inside - and Forefathers drew away from their rivals. Forefathers finished 6 1/4 lengths in front of third-place Cowtown Cat.

Adore the Gold, ridden by Velasquez, completed 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.86. He is by Formal Gold, and was bred and is owned by John Murphy.

Adore the Gold already has won going two turns, in the 1 1/16-mile Dover Stakes at Delaware in October. He will stretch out again next time, Gorham said, "but I don't know where and when yet."