Funny Cide put Barclay Tagg on the map. He made the most of that opportunity then, and hes making the most of his opportunities now. In fact, hes raised the bar for himself. Kentucky Derby notwithstanding, it been a career year for Tagg.

Winning at a better than 1-in-5 rate in graded stakes this year, hes doing it with every manner of horse. He started the year on the Triple Crown trail with Nobiz Like Shobiz. Tough year for any horseman to crack this salty three-year-old bunch.

But then he put the long striding colt on the grass, and the colt took to the surface like nobodys business. It would be nice to see his owner, Mrs. Elizabeth Valando, be rewarded for her loyalty to the memory of her late husband.

She didnt sell maybe the best horse they ever had to the Darley interests, not even for stupid money, $17 million. And they raced a champion over a decade ago, a juvenile named Fly So Free, trained by the late Scotty Schulhofer.

Tagg was in stakes action on two fronts yesterday, Aqueduct and Churchill Downs, both graded events and both on the grass. The result? Tagg 2, Rivals 0.

He won the Grade 2 Red Smith marathon with a New York-bred veteran named Dave. Who knew that Dave was dying to run 11 furlongs all along? I knew he couldnt win the Red Smith; he couldnt even win a state-bred stakes at Saratoga. Hell, everyone knew he had no chance: $31.60.

But he wasnt there to saddle Dave. He was at Churchill, tightening the girth on Bit of Whimsy. Cant believe the G2 Mrs. Revere was on her dance card. Not after winning the G1 Queen Elizabeth, following her runner-up finish in the G1 Garden City. Hell, everyone knew she couldnt get beat: $5.20.

So good is this three-year-old grass filly that Tagg apparently wouldnt let her out of his sight. Neither would Javier Castellano, who went down to ride her. She spotted her rivals from two to six pounds as the 123-pound highweight, unlike Dave, co low-weight at 114.

Longshot or favorite, male or female, it hasnt mattered this season for Tagg; hes pushed all the right buttons. Four years ago he caught the brass ring with Funny Cide, but the merry-go-round is showing no signs of stopping anytime soon.