08/07/2007 12:00AM

Turf ability hidden no longer


LAS VEGAS - A few weeks ago in this column, I wrote that many notable 3-year-olds who had excellent (but hidden) turf pedigrees, including Teuflesberg and Nobiz Like Shobiz, were working on the grass in preparation for their grass debuts.

Last Saturday, Teuflesberg showed his affinity for grass, running a strong second in the Glow, an overnight stakes at Saratoga. But his trainer, Jamie Sanders, only ran him on the grass because he was tearing down the stall and needed to run. She was just using this race as a prep for the prestigious Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes on dirt on Aug. 28.

Teuflesberg is showing the same versatility as his sire, Johannesburg, a 2-year-old champion in four countries (United States, England, Ireland, and France) who won all six of his turf starts in Europe at age 2, culminating with an authoritative romp in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on dirt.

Teuflesberg is from Johannesburg's first crop, and along with Marcavelly, he is among the best offspring by that sire. While Marcavelly is strictly a grass horse, Sanders obviously has many options with Teuflesberg, including three Breeders' Cup races - the Sprint, the Mile, and the inaugural running of the Dirt Mile (which will be run at one mile and 70 yards due to the configuration of Monmouth Park).

Johannesburg also is the sire of Baroness Thatcher, who ran third in last Saturday's Test Stakes at Saratoga. Baroness Thatcher, out of the Gulch mare Natkeeta, also is bred for turf, and despite the fact that she finished eighth in her only grass appearance - the American Oaks at 1o1/4 miles - her trainer, Patrick Biancone, should try grass again at a shorter distance. Baroness Thatcher set the pace, weakened in the final quarter-mile, and was only beaten 7o1/4 lengths by Panty Raid. In addition to Johannesburg and hidden turf (HT) sire Gulch, Baroness Thatcher has a slew of grass influences up close in her pedigree, including In Reality (Intentionally) and Key to the Mint (Graustark). In addition, her female family produced Elusive Quality, a world-record holder at one mile on the turf (1:31.70), and 2-year-old champion Anees.

Nobiz Like Shobiz was moved to turf by trainer Barclay Tagg because he was running down on the dirt and skimming his heels, not because of his pedigree. Working many times on turf, including a bullet five-furlong breeze in 58.80 seconds, he did not run down, and Tagg chose the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga as his grass debut, a tough spot since it included Marcavelly and the ultra-consistent Distorted Reality.

Nobiz Like Shobiz, who is most definitely bred for turf, won the Hall of Fame Stakes and should now be pointed for what is always a crowded and extremely competitive Breeders' Cup Mile. While Nobiz Like Shobiz's pedigree doesn't scream turf, he is a perfect example of the HT factor. He is by Albert the Great, who achieved his success on dirt, but was always bred to excel on turf if given the opportunity. Because he is not associated with grass, his runners normally offer greater value on turf than dirt. In fact, it is the entire tail-male sire line (Albert the Great, Go for Gin, Cormorant, His Majesty-Ribot) that is the predictor of turf success.

Of course, that value is diminished when a big-name stakes horse makes his first appearance on that surface. Especially well-known to New York players, Nobiz Like Shobiz was made the tepid favorite over Marcavelly based solely on his reputation, despite the race being his grass debut. Nobiz Like Shobiz did not disappoint, running strongly throughout the nine furlongs and gamely holding off the experienced turf star Marcavelly, who had a troubled trip in deep stretch.

Peeping Fawn, 'Rags' share family

Peeping Fawn is the talk of Europe after a smashing victory over the older Mandesha, last year's European 3-year-old filly champion, in the Nassau Stakes. After winning the Pretty Polly Stakes and the Irish Oaks, Peeping Fawn stepped it up a notch in the Nassau and could be a major player in this year's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. But that scenario may be unlikely as her owners, Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier, already have earmarked Europe's top prize, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, as her ultimate goal.

In addition to Peeping Fawn, Tabor and Magnier also own Rags to Riches, and both outstanding 3-year-old fillies descend from the same female family. Peeping Fawn (by the late Danehill) is out of the Sadler's Wells mare Maryinsky, while Rags to Riches (by A.P. Indy) is out of the Deputy Minister mare Better Than Honour. Maryinsky and Better Than Honour are daughters of Kentucky Oaks winner Blush With Pride.