Barclay Tagg saved Showing Up's first start on the turf for Saturday, and the trainer's patience was well rewarded in the $1 million Colonial Turf Cup for 3-year-olds at Colonial Downs.
Owned by the Lael Stables' Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who were devastated in May by the injury to Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I) winner Barbaro, Showing Up looks like the next star of American turf racing after his stirring 3 1/4-length romp as the 5-2 choice in a track-record time of 1:52.98 for the 1 3/16-mile event.
Showing Up has shown great promise since beginning his career with a three-race winning streak, topped by a 1 1/4-length win in Keeneland's Lexington Stakes (gr. II) April 22. The last start for the son of Strategic Mission-Miss Alethia (T.V. Commercial) was in the Kentucky Derby, when he finished sixth, 10 lengths behind Barbaro, at odds of 26-1. All along, though, Tagg has believed Showing Up would show himself to best advantage on the lawn.
Tagg worked Showing Up four times on the Belmont Park turf since the Derby, and the chestnut was ready for the first of a four-leg turf series for sophomores dubbed the "Grand Slam of Grass."
"I just never thought he looked real comfortable on the dirt even though he was very impressive on it in several of his races," Tagg said of the colt. "One day we jogged him off on the turf and he just looked like he was reborn."
Breaking from the rail with Cornelio Velasquez aboard, Showing Up rated in fourth while saving ground, angled out at the top of the stretch, and continued to cut into the lead of pacesetter Kip Deville, getting the lead while gobbling up ground inside the sixteenth pole. He drew off impressively under brisk urging.
"I had a lot of horse," said Velasquez, who won his 2,000th race in North America on Showing Up.
Kip Deville, a 28-1 shot, spurted to the lead from the outside post in the 14-horse field and opened up by as much as 15 lengths under Quincy Hamilton after six furlongs, setting lively fractions of :22 2/5, :45 2/5 and 1:08 3/5. Kip Deville tired in the stretch as Showing Up swept past but was able to hold on to second by three-quarters of a length over Go Between, ridden by Garrett Gomez.
Showing Up, bought for $60,000 just over a year ago, earned $600,000 for his initial foray on grass and has now earned $840,500 with four wins in five starts. Nellie M. Cox and Rose Retreat Farm bred the winner in Kentucky.
He paid $7.60, $7.80, and $4.60. Kip Deville returned $24 and $13.20. Go Between was $7.20 to show.
Roman Dynasty finished fourth, followed by Outperformance, Stream Cat (the 4-1 second choice), Can't Beat It, Yate's Black Cat, Lewis Michael, Unbridled Behavior, Rock Lobster, International Cat, Chin High, and Prime Diamond.
The Slam, offering a $5 million bonus to a horse who sweeps all four races, also includes the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park on Aug. 12 and the $2 million John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.