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May 12, 2007

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


The Kentucky Derby has come and gone and the long awaited race didn’t disappoint. The long Breeders’ Cup Juvenile jinx has finally ended if there really ever was one as STREET SENSE won both races. The many side stories that the Derby holds each year also made for a very exciting day and the move forward to the Preakness and a possible Triple Crown winner will have the attention of racing fans for the next five weeks.

    With a full field of 20 horses going to the post the race was run relatively clean without much trouble for anyone especially the winner, STREET SENSE. HARD SPUN broke running from post 8 and was sent right to the lead, setting solid splits of 22:4, 46:1, 1:11, 1:37, and then a final time of 2:02. He led past the quarter by just a head by then increased his advantage thereafter and held a clear lead as they approached the top of the stretch. At that time, STREET SENSE, who couldn’t have gotten a better trip swung out and ran by HARD SPUN, scoring by two and a quarter lengths. HARD SPUN was easily second best by almost six lengths and the previously undefeated CURLIN ran third.

    Back to STREET SENSE and his trip, the overhead shot they showed on NBC after the race showed that just like in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when he won with a rail run, he stayed on the rail throughout again and one by one the jockeys were coming off the rail allowing STREET SENSE and jockey Calvin Borel a clear run from start to finish. Not to take away anything from STREET SENSE but he does love Churchill Downs as evidenced by his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile win and his Derby win but to get two perfect trips in big fields like that is hard to believe. Would he have still won with a trip where he had to go wide, get stopped, or something else, maybe but you can’t reasonably expect to get that same kind of trip in the Preakness and/or Belmont Stakes. His two main rivals in the Preakness will be the second and third place finishers in the Derby. HARD SPUN is on track for a return engagement with STREET SENSE and the lightly raced but extremely talented CURLIN will be back also as of this writing.

    Looking at HARD SPUN’S trip he obviously had a clean trip in terms of traffic because he was on the lead but he did have to set solid fractions and everyone that chased him early finished way up the track. When he was challenged in the stretch by STREET SENSE they easily drew away from the field to finish well clear of the show spot. CURLIN’s trip was another story, he was steadied a bit early on, then raced between horses before coming wide into the lane and closed well to finish third. He should really improve off the Derby because he has gained a lot of experience being forced to navigate a big field and having to go 1 and ¼ miles. His talent is immense and he should be sitting on a big race for the Preakness.

    The rest of the field didn’t do much running save IMAWILDANDCRAZYGUY who was behind STREET SENSE early on racing in 20th and last and he didn’t get a perfect rail trip instead had to come very wide into the lane and did well to finish fourth. As far as new shooters in the Preakness there isn’t anyone that could really scare the top three finishers in the Derby. CHELOKEE is the only one that would have any kind of shot coming off a tough trip third in the Florida Derby. He would have to get a great trip and really improve to come close to STREET SENSE, HARD SPUN, and CURLIN.           

    The Preakness on May 19th should be a very good race with three very good three year olds looking to make themselves racing’s next superstar. Good Luck!



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