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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Street Sense's Saturday

- Hope you got to see the Tampa Bay Derby (if not, be sure to do so on Cal Racing or the NTRA site). Wow, this was a tremendous race, with Street Sense duplicating his rail skimming ride in the Juvenile (as duly and promptly noted by track announcer Richard Grunder). I was rooting for Any Given Saturday, not because I bet on him at 3-5, but because he was really the first two-year old last year who made me think Derby, and he's been #2 on my Derby list.

Pletcher's colt was clearly the best horse in the race of course, three wide on the turn with Velazquez peeking behind at Street Sense several times. When he peeked and saw that Borel had found an inside path, he got busy on his colt, who came back at the end, and lost on a head bob. Frank Lyons, on TVG, was saying before the race that Any Given Saturday was extremely "fit;" he was implying that he may have been too much so with the main objective still seven weeks away. After the race, Lyons opined that the race could have taken a lot out of him at this stage. Pletcher had been planning to run him back a month hence in the Blue Grass, and three weeks later in the Derby. I'm interested to see if he adheres to those plans.

Lyons was less concerned about the effect of the race on Street Sense, and I would agree about that. Yes, he (again) benefited from a ground saving trip, but he gamely fought off a very classy three-year old in his first race in over four months. It's a great start for Nafzger; he got his horse a solid prep, one without undue stress, yet giving him the experience of hooking a determined rival in the stretch. And on top of that, he got a win when he didn't need one. We can certainly expect that Street Sense can improve off the effort. But I think it's fair to remain just a bit skeptical of a colt who has now gotten the most perfect of trips in two consecutive races. And this time, he needed every saved step.


Anonymous said...

I agree. A hell of a race. Two awesome performances. A very long layoff, but a rail skimming ride vs
AGS wide trip and battling back. Hope they both make the Derby, we need these two.

Valerie Grash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Valerie Grash said...

I concur! Very impressive. However, on the NTRA show on ESPN, Jerry Bailey seemed concerned that Street Sense may actually be hurt by having had such a hard race. Do you think there is any validity to this, or is Bailey just blowing hot air? :)

Alan Mann said...


I don't know that the race will be too hard on Street Sense. He saved ground around the first turn, just kinda loped along off the pace before coming up the rail turning for home. He ran hard in the stretch to be sure, but, and who am I to question the opinion of a Hall of Fame jockey, I'd be more concerned about Any Given Saturday than Street Sense.

Valerie Grash said...

Agreed. I'm still a fan of Any Given Saturday, and await seeing Street Sense have to deal with a tougher post position and more traffic. Just watched the San Felipe and the Rebel...neither race overly impressive.

Greg said...

I disagree. I thought Curlin's performance in the Rebel was the most impressive performance of the day. A horse coming off only a debut maiden victory, Curlin broke a step slow, was wide on the turn, and won with ease. Granted the field wasn't that strong maybe, but I thought he won pretty easy.
Alan, I know you profiled Smart Strike a while ago, man does he throw runners... Asmussen is just getting started on this colt.
Look out!!!

Anonymous said...

I was most impressed by Street Sense. He showed a great deal of determination while engaging Any Given Saturday from the inside, while in close quarters. It's fair to say this horse doesn't back down from a fight, which should serve him extremely well in a roughly-run race like the Derby. The two colts got their final sixteenth in 6 1/5, flat-out exceptional over the dullish Tampa Bay surface (the final time of 1:43 flat was a new track record, btw). Even more exceptional when you consider that Street Sense couldn't possibly have been cranked up for this one. He should get a lot out of this race, and looks set for a big step forward next time out. I still don't think his two-prep campaign is ideal, but considering the way he ran today with NO preps, he appears to be up to the challenge. It's also worth noting that Nafzger is a prior Derby winner, and Street Sense already has a big win over the surface. Top contender here.

Any Given Saturday, i can't say anything bad about him either. Huge effort by both colts. It most be noted however that Any Given Saturday had the recency edge, and also a positional edge on the racetrack today. Being the outside horse in a stretch duel is always preferable, and he did have the head-start on Street Sense. He showed a great deal of tenacity in battling back, and showed an excellent late kick, but he had the edge today and couldn't get it done. When these two colts meet again, i think you have to favor Street Sense. Outstanding effort in defeat though, and he obviously ranks among the top contenders off this race.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Curlin had the most impressive win today. In reality Street Sense had a perfect trip and Cobalt Blue beat nothing. Bailey had mentioned how when he rode "Read The Footnotes" a few years back that he had a similar race to Street Sense and the horse was never the same after a grueling stretch run for victory. I still think the KY Derby winner comes from one of the 4 horses at the wire from the Fountain Of Youth race, hopefully all meeting again in The Florida Derby.

Anonymous said...

I thought Curlin was impressive, but beat little and has too much to do in too little time. Appeared a little green, and not a very fluid gate.

I think the Derby winner will come from the Tampa race, both are exceptional horses.

I am concerned with Street Sense having such a tough race, perfect trip or not, off a long layoff.
Bounce candidate next time.

The good news is if he bounces and gets beat a square price will be available on the first Saturday of May.

SS remains the horse to beat in the Derby until proven otherwise, but AGS is certainly number two based on both his performance yesterday and a more favorable running style than most of the other contenders.

Mr Ed

Alan Mann said...

I read Pletcher say that he felt that the inside was not the place to be. Both colts can bounce in the Blue Grass and be set up for the Derby I suppose.

Curlin was very impressive I thought, but as far as the Derby, one would think, logically, that it's too much too soon. But logic doesn't all apply this time of year.

Anonymous said...

With regard to Curlin, when's the last time the Derby winner debuted in February? It ain't gonna happen, guys...

Alan Mann said...

Walter, I agree, but they're going to try, that's for sure.

>>Asked if Curlin represents his best chance to win the Kentucky Derby, Asmussen said, “absolutely.”

Anonymous said...

- I agree that Street Sense got the better trip however he ran very hard in his first off a layoff and although he was training very well headed into this race, it might have been more taxing than first realized. We'll have to wait and see if he can move forward off this effort. On the other hand, Any Given Sunday has had a couple of races this season so he has had added bottom and conditioning headed into this race so he figures to have a better chance to move forward off this effort. Sunday is improving right now and there is no telling how good he can get.