Roy Jackson can’t say for certain when last he visited Hollywood Park, but it was awhile ago.
He remembers that Mervyn LeRoy was president of the Inglewood track, a position the late LeRoy last held in 1985.
Jackson and his wife, Gretchen, the couple behind Lael Stable, will be at Hollywood Park on Sunday to see Showing Up, the second-most-famous 3-year-old they own, in the $500,000 Hollywood Derby.
A Grade I at 1 1/4 miles, the Derby is part of Hollywood Park’s three-day Autumn Turf Festival. It begins today, includes six grass stakes, highlighted by the Derby and the $500,000 Matriarch on Sunday and today’s $400,000 Citation Handicap.
Although he has had to take a back seat to Barbaro, who gave the Jacksons their first Kentucky Derby victory before suffering a career-ending -- and potentially fatal -- injury in the Preakness, Showing Up is a superior colt in his own right.
Sixth in the Derby in what was only his fourth start, Showing Up has developed into the best 3-year-old grass horse in the country.
He has won three of four on turf, including a victory in the Secretariat, a Grade I at the Hollywood Derby distance, on the Arlington Million undercard Aug. 12 at Arlington Park in Chicago. In his lone defeat on the surface, he was third behind older horses Cacique and Go Deputy in the Man O’ War, a Grade I, Sept. 9 at Belmont Park in New York.
A winner of six of eight overall with earnings of more than $1.3 million, Showing Up, under regular jockey Cornelio Velasquez, will be favored in the Hollywood Derby.
“He’s doing well,” Jackson said from his home in West Grove, Pa. “All indications from [trainer Barclay Tagg] are that he’s doing fine.
“After his last race [a 3 1/2 -length win in the Jamaica Breeders’ Cup Handicap on Oct. 14 at Belmont], Barclay thought it would really be sort of pressing it to run him in one of the Breeders’ Cup races. He thought it would be better to keep him with his own age bracket. We want to keep him sound and run him next year, so this race made more sense.”
Besides Barbaro and Showing Up, the Jacksons also bred George Washington, a multiple stakes winner in Europe, so they have had a magical year on the track. What happened to the Kentucky Derby winner was a tragedy, but, according to Jackson, Barbaro continues to progress. “It’s still day to day with him and it has been and will continue to be a long process, but he’s had some good weeks together,” Jackson said. “He’s in good spirits, and if you look at him he looks pretty normal.”
The Jacksons live only 1 1/2 miles from where Barbaro is recuperating, so they visit often.
"[Gretchen] usually stops there twice a day,” Jackson said. “She takes him down a big bucket of grass in the morning and again in the afternoon, and I stop there on my way home at night.”
Purchased for $60,000 at a Maryland sale in the spring of 2005, Showing Up has been a pleasant surprise for the Jacksons.
“From time to time, Barclay goes to some sort of 2-year-old-in-training sales and if he likes the individual, he’ll contact us,” Jackson said. “He bid on the colt and we ended up with him. It’s been a wonderful surprise, having a horse like him come along. So far, he has done everything asked of him.”
The connections of the other 3-year-olds scheduled to run in the Hollywood Derby probably wish the son of Strategic Mission were running elsewhere.
“He has not done much wrong,” Tagg said. “He’s a real nice horse, and he has a big personality.”
Besides Showing Up, the race is likely to include, among others, Oak Tree Derby winner Dark Islander; Ivan Denisovich; Falcon Scott, Giacomo’s half brother; Kip Deville; and Santa Anita Derby winner Brother Derek, making his grass debut.