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Apr 27, 2007

This could be a great Kentucky Derby

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor


Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - This year's Kentucky Derby is shaping up as an all-time best. Almost every top two-year-old from 2006 is healthy and aiming for the first Saturday in May.

Right off the bat you know it could be a top flight Run for the Roses, because last year's champion two-year-old Street Sense is healthy and one of the favorites. He can snap the Breeders' Cup Juvenile jinx by becoming the first winner of that race to take the Kentucky Derby.

In addition to the above mentioned jinx, no two-year-old champion has won the Run for the Roses since Spectacular Bid in 1979. Street Sense has just two starts this year, but is working well leading up to the race.

"I'm more worried about 19 other horses," trainer Carl Nafzger said. "I'm not really worried about what he is going to do. You don't change anything. When you get to a Grade I race with horses of that quality it is a jockey's race. You have done your part. You are done. You are finished. I don't change the dimension of my horse. My horse's dimension is where we have found he is most effective and we leave him in that dimension and let him do it from there."

Circular Quay, the post-time favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, is headed to Louisville off a victory in the Louisiana Derby. He is one of five possible starters from trainer Todd Pletcher's barn. He also has Illinois Derby winner Cowtown Cat, Any Given Saturday, Scat Daddy and Sam P.

Scat Daddy won the Florida Derby, Co-owner Michael Tabor expects his three- year-old to duplicate Barbaro's accomplishment from 2006.

"We know the five weeks leading up to it can work after last year," Tabor said, "and we look forward to it."

Trainer Doug O'Neill has three probable starters in Great Hunter, Liquidity and Cobalt Blue. Great Hunter could be the best of the trio. He won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita and had a troubled trip when fifth in the Blue Grass Stakes.

"I thought we’d have been right there if not for that incident in the stretch (Great Hunter was forced to take up when Teuflesberg drifted out at the sixteenth pole)," noted O'Neill. "From that standpoint, I think he ran a good race. But his lane completely got taken away from him."

Pennsylvania-bred Hard Spun will have a six week break between his win in the Lane's End Stakes and the Kentucky Derby. Last year Barbaro won the Run for the Roses off a five week break.

Arkansas Derby winner Curlin may well be the morning line favorite off his dominating victory at Oaklawn. He was made the 7-2 favorite when betting closed in the final future wagering pool for the Derby.

"This horse is just scary," said trainer Steve Asmussen. "He's brilliant in more than one way. At no point did you look up and not think that he was the winner. I will be very surprised if he's not the favorite."

Two prep winners that are not expected to be better that 15-1 in the morning line are Blue Grass victor Dominican and Santa Anita Derby champ Tiago.

Dominican put on a late charge to nose out Street Sense at odds of 8-1. Tiago, a half-brother to Giacomo, was 29-1 when he won his race.

Another possible morning line favorite is Wood Memorial winner Nobiz Like Shobiz. The colt is trained by Barclay Tagg who saddle 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide.

"I always wanted to win the Wood Memorial," said Tagg. "I love the big races in New York. He didn’t gallop away by ten, but he had a pretty well-bred horse chasing him. He’ll be fine now. There were some immaturity things happening to him, but he’ll get better each time. The cotton in his ears settles him a little bit."

All the major contenders are healthy and primed for the first Saturday in May. The most exciting two minutes in sports this year should live up to that title.

 



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