LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Undefeated Showing Up arrived from New York yesterday and went to school.
Trainer Barclay Tagg, who spent much of his career in Maryland before moving his operation to New York, took Showing Up to the paddock to make sure he'll handle the crowd that shows up today for the 132nd Kentucky Derby.
"He jogged over to the paddock," Tagg said. "He walked around there and we showed him all the people who were there. Then he jogged back to the 6 1/2 -furlong pole and galloped a mile and a quarter. Then he walked home."
Tagg won the 2003 Derby with Funny Cide and said he's really not worried about Showing Up's demeanor here, because the horse, who has three wins in three races, is a natural.
"In his first race, I was completely amazed," Tagg said. "He looked like a horse who'd run 10 times. It was kind of fun watching him. And it's because of the maturity he's shown that I decided to bring him.
"He's very, very fast. He's very easy going. He's tenacious. If he's crowded, he works his way out. If there's a hole to go through, he'll go through it. He's not timid about anything. Those three reasons are the only reason I brought him. I don't have Derby Fever and all that stuff. It's just that he's a tough little colt ... the kind you like to come here with."
Tagg said the puncture wound in the side of Showing Up's right front leg, acquired in his last outing in the Lexington Stakes, continues to heal nicely and should not be a problem today.
No. 1 to Theos
Sweetnorthernsaint owner Ted Theos shrugged at being the No. 4 choice with 10-1 odds in the morning line.
"To my heart, I have the No. 1 choice," he said. "I feel like we're going to win - I guess everyone who has a horse feels that way."
Trainer Michael Trombetta said he'd like to have Sweetnorthernsaint "in the top eight" going through the first turn today.
Nerves set in
Barbaro trainer Michael Matz said he's starting to feel some nervousness.
"I can't help him any more," Matz said. "And I'm probably going to run the race in my head 50 times tonight: What if this happens? What if that happens? And there won't be anything I can do about any of it. It will be up to the gods, Edgar [jockey Edgar Prado] and Barbaro."
Way far away from the pre-Derby favorites, Seaside Retreat has been overlooked much of the week. But his trainer Mark Casse doesn't believe his horse is outclassed.
"Everyone judges horses by their speed numbers," he said. "But there are other ways to judge a horse - by the distance he travels and the trouble he gets out of. We've done all right in those departments and my horse loves this race track.
"I might go home dead wrong, but I didn't just start training yesterday."
Casse said some of the star horses "might be over the top, while our horse might be as good as he's ever been."
Lord Stanley in house
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Therien is part of West Point Thoroughbreds, who own Flashy Bull. He came to the press box yesterday with the Stanley Cup, the oldest trophy in sports at 114 years. He watched as the tall, multi-tiered, silver trophy was placed on a table and opened his eyes wide upon seeing how small the gold Derby trophy replica was beside it.
"Size doesn't matter," Therien said. "Both denote great accomplishments. I've never won the Stanley Cup, so I would definitely be happy to get the little gold Derby one."