08/10/2006 12:00AM

Showing Up heavy favorite

Jeff Coady / Coady Photography
Showing Up won the Colonial Turf Cup in his debut on turf.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Showing Up has lost only once in his life, and bettors figure to make him the favorite to win his first Grade 1 race when he starts Saturday at Arlington in the $400,000 . Showing Up will face just five rivals: the decent colt Proudinsky; a pair of European shippers with possibilities, Ivan Denisovich and Primary; an apparently overmatched Niagara Causeway; and the obvious competition, Go Between.

Showing Up handled Go Between when they met June 24 in the $1 million Colonial Turf Cup, but while trainer Barclay Tagg sat chilly with Showing Up, awaiting the Secretariat, Go Between returned to Colonial Downs from trainer Bill Mott's New York base and scored his own impressive win in a $1 million race, the Virginia Derby.

"I'm always a little wary of Billy Mott and his steeds," said Tagg.

Tagg trains Showing Up for the Lael Stable of Roy and Gretchen Jackson, and Showing Up went into the Kentucky Derby undefeated, just like the Jacksons' other colt, Barbaro. The identical sets of Lael silks stayed close to one another until the Derby stretch run, when Barbaro left everyone behind and Showing Up, making only his fourth career start, faded to sixth.

After a couple of idle weeks for Derby recovery, Showing Up got back to work, with Tagg playing a hunch and moving Showing Up to turf. Bingo. Tagg said that on grass, Showing Up immediately looked like a different horse. He warmed up easily and ran with a more comfortable stride. In the Colonial Turf Cup, he sat a distant fourth, then went and got a runaway pacesetter who barely was slowing in the stretch, winning by more than three lengths.

"He's small, he's not that good-looking, he's not a robust horse by any means," Tagg said. "He just goes out there and gets it done."

There is a large bonus offered to a horse who sweeps Colonial's million-dollar races, then wins the Secretariat and the Breeders' Cup Turf, but Tagg went another direction because he suspects Showing Up is special.

"Naturally I would've liked to have run in the Virginia Derby, but I was really looking ahead," Tagg said. "If he wins at Arlington, and he wins an older-horse race, then you'd have to try him in the Breeders' Cup Turf, and then he'd have to have a chance to be turf champion."

The 1 1/4-mile Secretariat looks on paper like a paceless race, and since Showing Up once ran an opening quarter-mile in a dirt sprint in about 45 seconds, he and jockey Cornelio Velasquez could find themselves on the lead from post 1. Go Between could also wind up close to the front, and he was visually impressive winning the 1 1/4-mile Virginia Derby by almost two lengths.

"I think he progressed nicely in his last race," said Mott, who won the 2005 Secretariat with Gun Salute. "I can't explain exactly why, but the [longer] distance didn't hurt a bit."

Proudinsky's strong stretch run fell a nose short here in the July 1 Arlington Classic, his first start since being imported from Germany, and he was a decent fifth behind Go Between last out in the Virginia Derby.

"He seems like a nice horse," said Bobby Frankel, who took over Proudinsky's training after the Virginia race. "He seems to be picking up every day, and physically he's starting to look better. He was a just a little light before."

Ivan Denisovich won the Group 2 July Stakes last summer, but is winless in seven starts since, though he has chased Group 1 competition in his last three starts. Perhaps just as interesting is Primary, who has faced lower-class horses than Ivan Denisovich, but has two wins at 1 1/4 miles this season.

The field

Purse: $400,000; 1 1/4 miles, turf; Grade 1

1Showing UpC. Velasquez1267-5
2ProudinskyE. Prado1196-1
3Go BetweenG. Gomez123 5-2
4PrimaryR. Albarado1195-1
5Ivan DenisovichJ. Velazquez1194-1
6Niagara CausewayC. Emigh11920-1

* Track odds