06/22/2006 12:00AM

One million reasons to try the turf

Showing Up, winning the Lexington on Keeneland's main track, has been sent through five turf workouts by Barclay Tagg.

A $1 million race with a full field of 14 horses is an auspicious place for a horse to make his grass debut.

But such is the promise shown so far by Showing Up, the lightly raced 3-year-old colt trained by Barclay Tagg who was undefeated until a sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. On Saturday at Colonial Downs, Showing Up will make his first start on turf in the Colonial Turf Cup, a 1 3/16-mile race that had its purse bumped up from $500,000 to $1 million this year in the hopes that the New Kent, Va., track would attract the next generation of U.S. turf racing stars. The race shares the card with the Grade 3 All Along for fillies and mares on turf.

will likely be the first or second choice in the Turf Cup, but winning the race will be no dull task. Thirteen other horses, including multiple stakes winner Stream Cat and several other horses with far more experience on grass than Showing Up, are set to go, vying not only for the first-place purse but a shot at a much larger payday down the road.

The Colonial Turf Cup is the first leg in a four-race series that Colonial officials call the Grand Slam of Grass. Any horse who can win the Turf Cup, the Virginia Derby at Colonial on July 15, the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 12, and the Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill on Nov. 4 will take home a bonus check from Colonial worth at least $2.3 million. The bonus is designed to give the owner of the winning horse a total of $5 million, counting the purses of the races.

This year's Colonial Turf Cup appears to be a paceless affair on paper, with only two horses in the field - - preferring to run on or near the lead. Kip Deville will have his work cut out for him by starting from post 14 on Colonial's 180-foot wide turf course.

Roman Dynasty is trained by the always-dangerous Todd Pletcher. The colt comes into the Turf Cup off a 3 1/2-length win in the 1 1/16-mile Match the Hatch Stakes at Belmont Park, a race that was taken off the turf because of bad weather and run over a sealed track. Pletcher has worked Roman Dynasty three times on the grass at Belmont since the race.

Showing Up, who will start from the post 1, prefers to stalk, and he has shown a brilliant turn of foot on the dirt. That type of push-button speed typically bodes well for turf racing, and with a distance-oriented pedigree, the only question mark may be fitness. Showing Up has not started since the May 6 Derby, but Tagg has worked him five times on the turf at Belmont since the race, including a bullet five-furlong work on June 5.

, the morning-line favorite who is undefeated in three starts on turf, comes into the Turf Cup on a two race-win streak. He took the Grade 3 Crown Royal American Turf at Churchill Downs on May 5 in his seasonal debut, and then scored in the $150,000 USA Stakes at Lone Star Park on May 29. He will look to make his move at the top of the stretch.

Another horse to consider strongly is , who took the Grade 3 Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont on June 9 in his last start. Weather forecasts on Friday and Saturday show chances of thunderstorms on both days, and if the track takes water, his chances improve.

Another horse who has already notched a graded-stakes win on turf is , who finished behind Stream Cat in the American Turf. Go Between, trained by Bill Mott, has never finished out of the money in seven lifetime starts.

Lewis Michael will make his return to grass in the Turf Cup after two straight starts on the dirt. In his last start, Lewis Michael posted the field's best Beyer Speed Figure, a 102, when he finished a game neck behind Sunriver in the May 20 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont. Lewis Michael is coming into the Turf Cup after surgery to repair a displaced palate.

Filling out the field are International Cat, Prime Diamond, Rock Lobster, Unbridled Behavior, Can't Beat It, Yate's Black Cat, and Chin High. Though Rock Lobster appears overmatched in this field, he is trained by Michael Dickinson, who has a stubborn knack for getting the best out of his horses in just this type of situation.