BALTIMORE - Street Sense has already defied long odds by winning the Kentucky Derby. The colt will be a short price in Saturday's Preakness Stakes.
"I'm not a gambler and I'm the world's worst handicapper, but this is what I know," Street Sense trainer Carl Nafzger said. "One thing gets you to the winner's circle - the horse is what gets you there."
Street Sense was made the 7-5 favorite Wednesday, and a victory would set up a Triple Crown shot in the Belmont Stakes on June 9.
A field of nine 3-year-olds was entered for the 13/16-mile Preakness at Pimlico Race Course. Street Sense drew the No. 8 post, one spot farther out than Derby runner-up Hard Spun, the 5-2 second choice. In the Derby, their posts were reversed.
"I've always liked the eight post," Nafzger said. "It's outside. You get a good look at the field and you've got a straight run to the first turn."
Preakness favorites have won five of the past six times.
Street Sense is coming off a 2Â¼-length win in the Derby two weeks ago thanks to jockey Calvin Borel's brilliant, rail-hugging trip against 19 rivals.
There won't be as much traffic to navigate this time. Should Street Sense win, a Triple Crown bid might be the perfect remedy for racing a year after Derby winner Barbaro's ill-fated breakdown in the Preakness.
Two other Derby horses will try again - third-place finisher Curlin and sixth-place finisher Circular Quay. Also entered were CP West, Flying First Class, Mint Slewlep, Xchanger and King of the Roxy.
Hard Spun will be ridden by Maryland's leading jockey Mario Pino, and leave from the No. 7 post.
"It was a good number for the Derby, so hopefully it will work for the Preakness," Hard Spun trainer Larry Jones said.
Curlin, beaten for the first time in the Derby after three overpowering victories, was the third choice at 7-2, and drew the No. 4 post. Circular Quay, the Louisiana Derby winner, leaves from the No. 3 post at 8-1 odds.
Pimlico oddsmaker Frank Carulli had an easy time handicapping the field.
"Unlike a lot of races, there is a good one-race gauge and, of course, it is the Kentucky Derby itself," he said. "With the favorites living up to expectations in the Derby, it made the line a lot easier."
Street Sense arrived at Pimlico on Wednesday, a day after his final tuneup at Churchill Downs.
"He's here and he's doing good," Nafzger said of his colt, who has four wins in eight starts and earnings of $2,958,200.
With his Derby win, Street Sense became the first winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, first run in 1984, to take the run for the roses. He also was the first 2-year-old champion since Spectacular Bid in 1979 to win, and the first winner off only two preps since Sunny's Halo in 1983
Now he will give it a go at trying to end the longest stretch between Triple Crown champions - it's been 29 years since Affirmed became the 11th Triple Crown. Previously, the longest stretch was 25 years - from Citation in 1948 to Secretariat in 1973.
"I think it's like the Derby," Street Sense owner James Tafel said of a Triple try. "It's almost beyond description. It's the aspiration of every horseman." Todd Pletcher, who trains Circular Quay and King of the Roxy, is 0-for-26 in Triple Crown races. The three-time Eclipse Award winner sent out a record-tying five starters in the Derby, with Circular Quay his best finisher. Pletcher is 0-for-19 in the Derby, but just 0-for-1 in the Preakness - Impeachment was third in 2000. "Clearly, Street Sense is the horse to beat," Pletcher said. "I think what we all have to hope for, those of us who are running against him, is that he's not as good away from Churchill as he is at Churchill Downs." Street Sense has excelled at Churchill, winning the Derby and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile there. Can he take to the tight turns at Pimlico, and then the 1Â½ miles of the Belmont? "A good race horse, and he's a good race horse, should be able to handle Pimlico and Belmont," Tafel said. "I don't see any reason why not."comments powered by Disqus