Showing Up was not robust, he just won

Both sides of the family tree of the thoroughbred Showing Up were loaded with horses that had thrived in turf races. Nellie Cox was the breeder of the slightly-built chestnut, who was also a grandson of the much-publicized, muchly successful Mr. Prospector.

Fortunately enough for Nellie Cox and later the Lael Stable, it was trainer Barclay Tagg who noticed Showing Up at a Fasig-Tipton sale of two-year-olds in training in May of 2005 and bought him for $60,000.

Lael Stable had the single-minded Tagg as Showing Up’s trainer.

Tagg, as was his way, did not rush the little rust-colored colt to the races. In fact, Showing Up did not race as a two-year-old.

All the breeding records and pedigree notes showed clearly that Showing Up should do his best work on grass courses.

Showing Up easily passed the $1 million mark in earnings — and he did it in only 10 races.

Showing Up easily passed the $1 million mark in earnings — and he did it in only 10 races.

But as Tagg later said, and Lael Stable wholeheartedly agreed, “They’re only a three-year-old once.” And it’s at age three that comes the one chance at the Kentucky Derby, the race most owners consider the Holy Grail of thoroughbred racing.Showing Up had his first-ever racing experience at age three in a maiden sprint at Gulfstream Park in Florida. He won.In an allowance race at one mile at the same Gulfstream Park, he won for the second straight time. The winning time was a new track record.Tagg wanted to get a clear indication of whether or not his easy-to-overlook chestnut could be a Kentucky Derby contender. He put him in the Grade II Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. The distance was one mile and a 1/16. Showing Up won for the third straight time.

Even though the breeder, owner, and Tagg firmly believed Showing Up’s future was on the grass, a unanimous decision was agreed upon to go ahead in the Kentucky Derby.

In a 20-horse field, Showing Up was sixth and the grand dirt-courses experiment was over.

He was a half-brother of multiple-stakes winner Gimmeawink, whose success had been on the grass.

Tagg began training him for a career on the turf. He would never be tried on the dirt again.

Convinced of the ruddy little runner’s ability, Tagg booked his first grass race in Virginia in the Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs. The observant trainer was proved correct. Showing Up danced home a winner by a convincing 3 1/4-lengths. He shattered the stakes record by a full two seconds. Jockey Cornelio Velasquez celebrated his 2,000th win in that race.

After more than a month of deliberation, Tagg decided on the Grade I Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park, south of Chicago.

Later, in the winner’s circle with Showing Up, Tagg and his assistants were made aware that the time was the second-fastest Secretariat Stakes ever posted.

In his six races, the grass-loving three-year-old was already a millionaire.

Tagg went all out when he had Showing Up going against a field of older graded stakes champions in the Grade I Man o’ War Stakes at Belmont Park. As the only three-year-old in the packed field, he was third behind Ireland’s Cacique and Go Deputy.

The Breeders’ Cup weekend of world-class racing came too close to the Man o’ War, so Tagg let that group of turf races go past and planned for the Grade II Jamaica Breeders’ Cup at a mile-and-one-eighth at Belmont Park.

Tagg’s thinking and plans for adequate rest for Showing Up were vindicated when the undersized colt raced away to another clear win.

The last race of the 2006 season for Tagg and his charge was out in California at the Grade I Hollywood Derby at the classic distance of 10 furlongs.

Californians made Showing Up the betting favorite. Californians collected on their bets when a new Hollywood Derby record was set while Showing Up outdistanced the field by more than two lengths.

In his nine lifetime races, there had been seven wins and a third besides the sixth-place in the Kentucky Derby.

Racing was finished for that year.

It was winter. And time for rest and more rest.

In April of 2007, Tagg brought him back to Keeneland for that race course’s spring meet held among the full-blossomed dogwoods and redbud trees.

A series of early spring days in Kentucky had been filled with showers and intermittent rains. The turf course was heavy and wet. Showing Up had never raced on any surface that wasn’t listed as “firm”.

The race chosen to lead his four-year-old campaign was the Grade II Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes at one mile.

After a second-place showing, Tagg and Lael Stable thought a physical problem might then exist. Nothing important was found to be wrong. But another rest period was ordered.

Showing Up did not race again that year.

In April of 2008, with another Keeneland spring meet looming just ahead, Tagg issued a short statement that Showing Up would be retired to stud while he was still sound and without chancing injury or infirmity.

In Florida, where his initial stud fee was $7,500, Showing Up stands in Williston as the property of Adena Springs and Lael.

A young filly named Number One Dancer was a winner in her first race in August of this year, giving Showing Up his first on-track success story with a daughter or son.

Here in 2012, he has 52 two-year-olds in this his first “crop” of sons and daughters.

Though he was undistinguished by appearance or anything striking about his physical being, Showing Up earned $1,660,500 in only 10 lifetime races while being cared for by Barclay Tagg and his “the horse’s health and well-being are what counts” methods.

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