by Karen M. Johnson
Nobiz Like Shobiz turned in his most impressive performance on the grass in the Oct. 6 Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park. Despite briefly being blocked at the top of the stretch, Nobiz Like Shobiz showed a powerful turn of foot to whiz home a four-length winner of the 1 1/8-mile inner turf race.
Ridden by Javier Castellano, Nobiz Like Shobiz, the 9-5 favorite, is perfect in three starts on the grass. During the summer, he won the Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. IIT) at Saratoga and the Kent Breeders’ Cup (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park.
The $300,000 Jamaica for 3-year-olds was Nobiz Like Shobiz’s toughest assignment so far on the turf.
Finishing second was Red Giant, the runner-up in the Secretariat Stakes (gr. I) and winner of the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT). Pays to Dream was third in the Jamaica, a head behind Red Giant.
The winner, the 121-pound co-highweight, returned $5.90. The final time was 1:46.80 over firm turf.
Barclay Tagg trains Nobiz Like Shobiz for Elizabeth J. Valando. With his win in the Jamaica, Tagg has won five stakes at the Belmont fall meet.
Surprisingly, War Monger, who hadn’t shown speed in his prior starts, set the pace for a mile. War Monger clicked off fractions of 23.89 seconds, 48.20, 1:11.47, and 1:35.12.
With a furlong remaining, Red Giant gained a narrow advantage over War Monger. Nobiz Like Shobiz, who raced farther off the pace than is his custom, came to the outside of those two and uncorked a scorching kick to assume the lead inside the sixteenth pole.
“It certainly looked like his best race ever,” Tagg said.
Tagg won the Jamaica last year with Showing Up, who came back and won the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT). Tagg will follow the same schedule with Nobiz Like Shobiz, a son of Albert the Great, out of Nightstorm (by Stormcat).
Nobiz Like Shobiz began his career on the dirt and was quite successful, winning three graded stakes, including this year’s Wood Memorial (gr. I) at Aqueduct. Because he had a problem running down – burning the area around his ankles when making contact with the racing surface – Tagg switched him to the turf.