Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Recognition: Nobiz Like Showbiz

You know, in a movie, when a girl at a party just happens to be walking around, about to leave, then she bumps into this tall, dark, handsome stranger, and then it's love at first site? This, in a horse sense, is what happened when trainer Barclay Tagg first laid eyes on Nobiz Like Showbiz. A two year old, going out for a morning jog, immediately struck Tagg as a potential Triple Crown candidate. He was big, dark, beautiful, but most of all he had a presence. It was then and there Tagg called up owner, Elizabeth Valando, and told her "This is the most gorgeous horse I have ever seen. If he is not a Triple Crown candidate, then they never made one.

From there Tagg took over the training of the handsome dark bay colt, taking his time with him. Nobiz Like Shobiz's awkward and playful nature delayed his debut until early September. The waiting paid off as Nobiz Like Showbiz ran his foes into the ground, winning his first start by nearly eleven lengths. The ultra talented colt would return one month later, jumping from a maiden all the way to Grade one stakes competition, in the Champagne Stakes. Here he met Scat Daddy, who was already a stakes winner and had much more experience. After being bumped at the start and pinched back, Nobiz Like Showbiz unleashed a bold move that propelled him to the front. Unfortunately, Scat Daddy was also coming strongly and would snatch the victory away.

Nobiz would not be denied another win, rebounding strongly in the 9 furlong grade two Remsen Stakes. The colt seemed to relish the extra furlong, running away from his rivals, to his first stakes win by over six lengths. His win was not only dominant in looks, but his final time validated the quality of the win. Nobiz had run the nine furlongs in 1.48.82, which was the fastest running of the race in 29 years.

After watching the talented two year old all through 2006, witnessing the ease and power he won with, I could only imagine what he would be like as a three year old. In 2007, he immediately became one of my favorites for the Kentucky Derby. I waited for any scrap of news that would tell me where he would make his three year old debut and was ecstatic when I found out he would be running in the Holly Bull stakes, which at the time was nine furlongs.

I remember waiting impatiently for the start of the race. Nobiz, would again face his rival Scat Daddy who had handed him his only defeat as a two year old. This time Nobiz Like Shobiz broke well, and was asked to go to the lead. Scat Daddy was not about to let his rival get away with an easy lead, and came up to provide some pressure. Despite this Nobiz opened up a clear lead, turning the tables on his rival, to win the Holy Bull Stakes. In his next start, his inexperience and lack of focus proved to be his undoing. Lugging to the inside during deep stretch cost him the Fountain of Youth, and another win. He ran third Scat Daddy and Stormello.

His career on dirt would only last for three more starts, his next would be his last win over the surface in the Wood Memorial. In the Derby he failed to close ground on the far turn and finished a distant tenth. His final start would be a third in the Dwyer Stakes, it was after that Barclay Tagg switched the colt to turf, since the colt was running down and burning his heels while on dirt.

Normally on occasions like these horses don't always transfer their form well from one surface to another, but for Nobiz, the grass certainly seemed greener on the other side. He won his first turf start, displaying a burst of acceleration he had never shown while on dirt. He would race twice more over this new surface, accumulating three wins in a row, including a dominant win in the Grade two Jamaica Stakes. In that race he rated off the pace in good position, before running up behind a wall of horses. It was only mid way through the stretch that he was taken to the outside, and soon as the big colt saw daylight he kicked into high gear, powering past his rivals to win by four lengths.

That race would be his last win of his career, for three weeks later he was hastily rushed into the Breeders Cup Mile, a distance that was a bit short for him against some of the best milers in America. After a troubled trip he finished a closing fourth. After a nine race season one would think that Nobiz would be put up on the self for a rest, returning for a four year old campaign. Neither of these things would happen.

One month later, in his tenth start of the year, Nobiz Like Showbiz, returned in the Hollywood Derby. I watched the race, pained as I saw one of my favorite horses struggle home eighth. It was apparent to me he was over the hill and very tired at this point, for he never displayed that magnificent burst of acceleration that rocketed him to a win two starts prior. It was thought that after this race Nobiz would still make a return in 2008, where I was sure that he would become one of the more dominant turf stars, but it was not to be so.

Only a few months into the year, I felt my heart plummet as I learned that Nobiz would not be returning in 2008 or ever, he was being retired to stud. I am sure with his breeding and versatility he will be one of the better sires at stud within a few year, but every time I think of him, even now, my heart aches. Things always kept rising up to provide some kind of road block, so that Nobiz would ever reach his full potential. 2007 was a great year, but when you have titans such as Hard Spun, Street Sense, and the mighty Curlin, it is easy to be overlooked. I, however, will not allow such a talent to be overlooked, he deserves recognition for what he accomplished, and even what he could have accomplished. I only wish that these uncertainties could be made into realities, he left our game to soon, with much more to give. He may not have been great, but still a joy to watch, and he will forever hold a place in my hear. Nobiz, I will always remember you.


  1. Talk about a horse who never quite fulfilled his potential. Nobiz was a beautiful horse who was excellent on dirt or turf. He came around in perhaps the wrong crop, and he never was able to get it done when thrown in with the sharks...I was still was a fan.

  2. He had a ten race season as a three year old, which is a lot for a horse who only made three starts later in his juvenile year. I wish they had let him rest after the Mile, maybe he would have been racing last year instead of getting an early start in the breeding shed.

  3. NOBIZ LIKE SHOBIZ- standing for a mere 2,500. What a steal. Triumphs on dirt and grass. Kept by his owner when the shieks offered some 12 million. This is one of the horses I will cheer for the loudest to have a super stallion career.

    Unfortunately, Tagg's dislike of the media puts distance between fans and his horses. Anyone have news on Hello Broadway.