Nobiz Like Shobiz and Tiago, respective winners of the Wood Memorial (gr. I) and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) April 7, have a license to make beautiful music together on the first Saturday in May. Music lovers everywhere should make the duo their hunch exacta May 5 for the 133rd running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
Tiago, a 29-1 longshot winner at Santa Anita, is owned by his breeders, Californians Jerry and Ann Moss, who only two years ago watched their homebred Giacomo—a half-brother to Tiago by Holy Bull—engineer one of the biggest upsets in Derby history. Jerry Moss is the co-founder with musician Herb Alpert of A&M Records, which was eventually purchased by PolyGram. Their current record company is Almo Sounds. Last year, the two men were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Moss is a legend in the music world, and racing is lucky to have him—both as an owner/breeder and someone who cares about the game. He currently serves on the California Horse Racing Board.
Tiago is named after a son of Brazilian Sergio Mendes, a jazz pianist and composer whose first album on A&M, Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, went platinum in 1966. Giacomo is named after a son of English rock star Sting, lead singer of The Police before he launched a solo career. The group recently reunited and will be playing Churchill Downs July 14. No word whether the two-legged Giacomo will be there that day.
Nobiz Like Shobiz is a homebred racing for Elizabeth Valando, whose late husband, Tommy, was a publishing pioneer on Broadway. Sardi’s restaurant in New York’s theater district overflowed with singers, actors, and producers to honor Valando after his death in February 1995. Valando published scores to countless Broadway shows from the 1950s to the ’80s, including Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Zorba, Sweeney Todd, and Sunday in the Park With George. You couldn’t find a kinder, more genuine person than Tommy Valando, either, unless it was the late Scotty Schulhofer, the Hall of Fame trainer who guided the Valandos’ champion Fly So Free through four top-class racing years in the early 1990s.
Tiago’s winning connections in the Santa Anita Derby are the same as Giacomo’s, with John Shirreffs conditioning the son of Pleasant Tap and Mike Smith guiding him to a thrilling, come-from-behind victory. Smith employed eerily similar tactics to win with Giacomo under the Twin Spires.
Nobiz Like Shobiz, a son of Albert the Great, is in the hands of the curmudgeonly old schooler Barclay Tagg, who made his first appearance in the Kentucky Derby a winning one in 2003 with Funny Cide. Tagg may not be the most popular trainer among the Turf writers chasing down a quote (he was a late arrival in Louisville with Funny Cide and promises to do the same this year), but I bet his horses really like him. He always does what’s right for them, and, in the greater scheme of things, isn’t that more important?
GOOD OLD DAYS
First thought I had when an on-track crowd of 56,810 was announced for the Santa Anita Derby card was that there must be some mistake. Isn’t racing in California dead?
Don’t try to tell that to Santa Anita president Ron Charles or marketing director Allen Gutterman. They are determined to prove that you can create big days for races like the Santa Anita Derby whether or not a potential superstar is in the field. The track pulled out all the stops: free T-shirts, a microbrew fest in partnership with a popular radio station, family activities, a $1-million guaranteed pick six, and lots of advertising. The crowd was the biggest for the Santa Anita Derby since 1984.
It was a job very well done.