LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Nobiz Like Shobiz, the last Kentucky Derby contender to arrive at Churchill Downs, set foot on the muddy track for the first time yesterday.
Overnight rain curtailed workouts for most of the 20 Derby horses. Nobiz Like Shobiz had an easy jog, spent a few minutes in the starting gate, and toured the paddock before returning to a dry stall.
Trainer Barclay Tagg is following the same routine that brought victory to his Funny Cide in 2003: arrive in Louisville as late as possible and keep a low profile.
Tagg nearly cut his arrival too close. He barely made the post-position draw downtown Wednesday night after the flight carrying him and Nobiz Like Shobiz was delayed.
"We had a wonderful host meet us at the airport," said Tagg, who grew up in Abington, graduated from Penn State, and got his first win at the old Liberty Park. "I think it was A.J. Foyt. He got us there on time."
Nobiz Like Shobiz bedded down in Barn 48, the same stall Funny Cide occupied. The barn, away from most of the other Derby horses, offered Tagg isolation.
"I like this barn because it is usually quieter," he said. "Usually, it's easier."
This will be Tagg's third Derby starter. The undefeated Showing Up, owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson, ran sixth last year.
Nobiz Like Shobiz was 8-1 on the morning line.