Poised to spring coming off the far turn, Lael Stables' odds-on favorite Showing Up surged past Crested in the stretch en route to a convincing 2 1/4-length victory in the $500,000 Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) on the turf Sunday.
The Barclay Tagg-trained Showing Up capped a huge 3-year-old season with his second grade I win Sunday, completing the 1 1/4-mile event on firm going in an excellent time of 1:59 1/5 with Cornelio Velasquez aboard. He also captured the Secretariat (gr. IT) at Arlington Park this summer.
Tagg, making a rare appearance in Southern California, said afterward that Showing Up would rest up and return for his 4-year-old season this spring.
"He just keeps showing up," joked Tagg, whose only previous stakes win at Hollywood Park came with Miss Josh in the 1991 Gamely Handicap.
The chestnut son of Strategic Mission
won seven of his nine starts in 2006 and was undefeated against other sophomores on the turf. His only losses came against older horses when third in the Man o' War (gr. IT) at Belmont Park in September and sixth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Sunday's $300,000 winning share pushed Showing Up's earnings to $1,610,500 for owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who won the Kentucky Derby with Barbaro.
Facing a tough field of nine rivals after the scratch of Brother Derek, Showing Up stalked a realistic pace set by Kip Deville and Dark Islander while racing off the rail. He was five wide coming off the turn and following Crested as they swept by the early leaders at the head of the stretch. Showing Up briefly engaged Crested mid-stretch but was pulling away nearing the furlong marker and won under mild left-handed urging from Velasquez.
"I had a lot of horse at the top of the stretch," said the Eastern-based Velasquez, who notched his first Hollywood Park stakes win. "I asked him a little bit, and he really wanted to go. He's got a huge stride, a very nice horse. This was his best race yet."
The French-bred Obrigado rallied too late for Garrett Gomez after a ground-saving trip to be best of the rest. It was the third successive graded runner-up finish for the Enrique colt who also finished second in the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) and Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT).
"I would have liked to have been a little closer in the race," Gomez said. "His idea is not breaking very well, so I eased him back a little, so I wasn't 10-wide on the clubhouse turn. From there, I had a pretty good trip."
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Irish-bred Ivan Denisovich ran on for third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Obrigado under John Velazquez, who said the colt didn't appreciate the hard ground.
"He was trying and trying, but he really didn't want to stretch out though," Velazquez said. "But he hung in there and ran a good race. I was proud of him."
Crested and Victor Espinoza tired late to finish fourth, a neck behind Ivan Denisovich.
Fractions for the Hollywood Derby were :24 1/5, :47 4/5, 1:11 and 1:35 3/5.
Showing Up made it back-to-back wins after his impressive win over 3-year-olds in Belmont's Jamaica Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) on a good surface by 3 1/2 lengths Oct. 14. Other victories this year included the $1 million Colonial Turf Cup and the Lexington (gr. II) on the dirt.
"Well I was a little angry he was back in fifth place, and I was hoping he was in third place," Tagg said. "But Cornelio and this horse get along very well, which seems to overcome whatever they do or whatever goes on. When you look back at it, it was a pretty good ride, a perfect ride. He had him timed right and everything went well."
Sent off at 4-5, he paid $3.60, $2.60, and $2.20. Obrigado returned $4.80 and $3.40. Ivan Denisovich, second to Showing Up in the Secretariat, was $3.60 to show.
Crested was followed by Zann, Kip Deville, Frost Giant, Dark Islander, Big Mistake, and Vega's Lord.