04/24/2006 12:00AM

Tagg wants Showing Up to run in the Derby

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Trainer Barclay Tagg and Showing Up before the colt's Lexington Stakes victory.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Barclay Tagg wants to return to the Kentucky Derby. It's a just a matter of whether his horse, Showing Up, will let him.

Showing Up came out of his victory in Saturday's Lexington Stakes with a puncture wound to his right foreleg. Tagg said the area has been treated with antibiotics and flushed out and, as of Monday morning, was in decent shape. However, Tagg's experience has taught him that "all of a sudden that thing can get infected and take off on you and then you're in big trouble," he said.

Provided that doesn't happen, Tagg is extremely eager to run Showing Up in the Derby. Showing Up returned to Belmont Park Monday morning following a 13 1/2-hour van ride from Lexington. Tagg said he would have shipped Showing Up back to New York regardless of thenature of the wound, and he wants to address the situation firsthand.

Though Showing Up has run only three times, Tagg said the horse has acted like a seasoned professional from his first start.

"Everybody says, 'Oh, you're crazy,' " Tagg said, "but still when he broke his maiden he looked like a horse that had run a hundred times. He was so cool about it all, he did everything he's supposed to do - got out of trouble, came through a tight hole, and did everything he was supposed to do."

The filly Regret, in 1915, is the last horse to win the Derby off just three lifetime starts. Since 1942, only eight others have tried.

"But they said a gelding and a New York-bred couldn't do it, too," said Tagg, who won the 2003 Derby with the New York-bred gelding Funny Cide. "If he wins, you're a genius. If he loses, you're an [idiot]."

Tagg believes if you have a horse you think is worthy of running in the Derby, you should run.

"I'd like to go," he said. "It'd be a career-builder. I'm too old to be worried about building a career, but if you have a shot at winning the Derby, you'd like to win it."

Tagg has reserved a spot for Showing Up on a plane scheduled to leave New York on May 4.

"If I can keep him here and exercise him and get his leg fixed up and he's bucking and squealing and eating good, I'll put him on that Thursday plane and take him there and run him," Tagg said.

Funny Cide to run in King's Point

Tagg confirmed Monday that Funny Cide would make his next start in Sunday's $65,000 King's Point Handicap for New York-breds. It would be Funny Cide's first start in restricted company since he won the Sleepy Hollow in his final start at age 2.

Funny Cide has lost eight consecutive races since winning the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in October 2004. He is coming off a second-place finish in the Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap on April 1.

"I'd like to get him winning again," Tagg said. "He looks good, he's feeling good, he's a coiled spring, but he's not winning."

Funny Cide was assigned 122 pounds for the King's Point. West Virginia, the Excelsior winner, was assigned 123, but he is not expected to start. Gold and Roses (119), Win With Beck (118), Galloping Grocer (116), and Spite the Devil (116) are possible to run.

Passero: Nothing's wrong with the track

The jockeys' refusal to ride the final six races on Sunday's card caught everybody by surprise - no one more than track superintendent John Passero.

The riders said the sloppy main track was "uneven" in spots. About four inches of rain fell in the metropolitan area from late Saturday through Sunday. Passero said he and his crew began working on the track at 4:30 Sunday morning and he was confident the track was in good shape.

"There's nothing wrong with the track, I mean nothing," Passero said. "I've never been so disappointed. If this is the standard, they're going to quit every time; that's the way I feel about it."

Jockeys also said the track was uneven on April 5, when the final six races of that card were canceled. On April 5, however, the jockeys offered to ride one or two more races, but management agreed to cancel because of a $205,721 carryover in the pick-six pool. Though there was a $43,888 carryover heading into Sunday's card, management was caught off-guard by this cancellation.

"It was a little surprising today, but we certainly respect their decision," said New York Racing Association senior vice president Bill Nader. "We've got a business to run, and it's a little bit frustrating, but we're not on the horses' backs."

Mike Luzzi, who rode one of the races Sunday, said he was concerned about the amount of water on the inside part of the track. Overall, Luzzi said he doesn't think there is an issue with the track.

"I don't necessarily think it's this track, I think it's the time of the year; you're up against it when you get a lot of rain," he said.

Richard Migliore, who had not ridden in the first three races Sunday, said he agreed not to ride the remainder of the card based on the opinions of his fellow riders. Migliore shunned the idea that jockeys don't want to ride in the slop.

"We all want to ride and make money and do our job," Migliore said.

Perhaps the fatal breakdown of two horses Saturday at Aqueduct played a part in Sunday's cancellation. Kohut and Qualified Opinion both suffered sesamoid fractures and had to be euthanized. Neither Glenn Disanto, the trainer of Kohut, nor Rick Violette, the trainer of Qualified Opinion, could say with certainty that the track contributed to the breakdowns.

Disanto said that jockey Pablo Morales told him Kohut was bumped at the same time the horse switched leads. Violette said his horse was bumped hard leaving the starting gate. There have been a number of horses vanned off in the last few weeks.

"I'm not a big blamer, the game's tough enough, but if there's a problem we need to find it," Violette said. "I know the meet's coming to an end, but there are some of us who have to train here year-round."

Passero said no trainer has expressed a concern to him about Aqueduct's main track.

* One race after finishing last in the Wood Memorial, Marco's Tale will be offered for $100,000 in an optional claiming race that goes as Wednesday's feature. The $45,000 race is a first-level allowance race for 3-year-olds. Marco's Tale, who had won two straight 1 1/8-mile racesbefore the wood, cuts back to seven furlongs in this spot.

The horse to beat may be War God, who makes his first start for trainer Bruce Levine after going 1 for 4 in Florida. He won his maiden going seven furlongs on Dec. 24 at Calder and caught the likes of Corinthian and Strong Contender in a pair of first-level allowance races at Gulfstream.