09/06/2006 11:00PM

Showing Up faces hotter competition

Showing Up, wiring the Secretariat, faces older horses for the first time in Saturday's Man o' War.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Barclay Tagg knew he ran Showing Up under less-than-ideal circumstances in the Kentucky Derby. Showing Up was being wheeled back in two weeks while fighting a puncture wound that required him to be on antibiotics for almost 10 days.

That ran with eventual Derby winner Barbaro until the eighth pole before finishing sixth was a testament to his talent.

Showing Up has continued to flourish, albeit on a different surface. Now, Tagg hopes to bring Showing Up back to Churchill Downs this fall for the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf, on a schedule Tagg laid out months in advance.

Having easily handled 3-year-olds in two turf stakes, Showing Up will face older horses for the first time in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park. He will face Grade 1 winners Cacique, Relaxed Gesture, and Go Deputy in the Man o' War, run at 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf course.

Saturday's 10-race card also includes the $250,000 Gazelle for 3-year-old fillies on dirt and the $250,000 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap for 3-year-old fillies on turf.

The impetus for putting Showing Up on turf was to avoid running against Barbaro on the dirt. Roy and Gretchen Jackson own both colts. While Barbaro suffered a career-ending injury in the Preakness, Tagg stuck with his turf plan for Showing Up.

Showing Up rallied from 17 lengths back to win the $1 million Colonial Turf Cup by 3 1/2 lengths. Though a lucrative bonus was available to the connections of the horse that could sweep the Colonial Turf Cup, Virginia Derby, Secretariat, and Breeders' Cup Turf, Tagg said he didn't like the timing of the Virginia Derby and pointed to the Secretariat, a race Showing Up won powerfully, in gate-to-wire fashion.

The Virginia Derby and Secretariat were seven weeks apart. Saturday's race comes four weeks from the Secretariat, but eight weeks from the Breeders' Cup.

"He does real well if you wait six or seven weeks," Tagg said. "This is four weeks. It ought to be sufficient. I get more than I expect from him every time I run him."

Though the front-running is entered in here, Showing Up may have enough speed to dictate the pace from post 3 under Cornelio Velasquez. However, Tagg said he would prefer to see someone else take the early initiative.

"If you get a horse that can lay third in a turf race, you're in pretty good shape," Tagg said. "He just seems to be able to do what you want with him."

Showing Up will seek to become the ninth 3-year-old to win the Man o' War, joining a list that includes Secretariat and 1988 turf champion Sunshine Forever.

won the Manhattan over this course in the spring, racing on the lead through soft fractions. He finished second to English Channel in the United Nations at Monmouth and was second to The Tin Man in the Arlington Million, when Cacique broke from an outside post.

"I thought the post position got him beat," said Bobby Frankel, who trains Cacique. "When they break, the inside horses fall right on the rail; the outside horses, man, they got to scramble to catch up to get position. Plus there was some bumping inside of them that took the last four horses out."

While Cacique was affected by the bumping, he had ample time to run down The Tin Man, but couldn't find the needed acceleration.

was beaten a head by Cacique in the Manhattan and was beaten less than a length in last year's Man o' War. Following a peculiar front-running trip in the Sword Dancer last out, when Relaxed Gesture finished fifth, trainer Christophe Clement makes a rider switch from Kent Desormeaux to Corey Nakatani, who rode Relaxed Gesture to victory in the Grade 1 Canadian International last year.

enters the Man o' War off wins in the Bowling Green and Sword Dancer. He does meet better competition, but trainer Todd Pletcher said he believes his horse has finally figured out how to win.

was second to Go Deputy in the Bowling Green here in July.

The field

Man O'War
Purse: $500,000; 1 3/8 miles, turf; Grade 1

1Crown PointJ. Castellano12620-1
2Go DeputyJ. Velazquez1267-2
3Showing UpC. Velasquez1215-2
4CosmonautJ. Leparoux12615-1
5RamazuttiC. Decarlo12620-1
6CaciqueE. Prado1262-1
7Relaxed GestureC. Nakatani1263-1

* Odds by Art Gropper