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Friday, April 13, 2007

Street Sense Makes Sense

- So, as I've hinted here before, I love Street Sense in the Blue Grass on Saturday. Unlike Any Given Saturday's preparation for the Wood, Street Sense has been working forwardly for Carl Nafzger, and I just get the feeling that he's primed to move forward, and not to bounce from the Tampa Bay Derby. This is despite what was a slow workout the other day.

Under regular rider Calvin Borel, Street Sense finished strong in a five-furlong workout Tuesday at Churchill Downs, but his time of 1:04 was the second slowest of the day.

"I think we got what we wanted," Nafzger said. [AP]
He also had a slow work three days before the Tampa race. His prior work was that five furlong breeze in 58 2/5. My opinion is that it would be a mistake to downgrade him on the basis of Any Given Saturday's disappointing Wood.
"A win is what I want," Nafzger said. "A second or third does not mean we're out of it, but we want to win. That will show us we are where we want to be. Our horse is ready to win and we still got more to tank out of him."
And that of course would be no surprise; the Derby will be his third race of the form cycle, a usually positive angle which has been treated as a Derby negative by many people, including myself, over the years (and for pretty good reason, I suppose). I think that Street Sense is going to win this race easily, by six or seven lengths.

Great Hunter beat Street Sense in the Breeders Futurity on the Polytrack there last fall, but the Juvenile champ traveled 38.5 feet more than the winner that day, according to Trakus, and lost by less than two. I've been very high on Great Hunter, who has been at or near the top of my top ten list all year. But I'm getting rather skeptical of Doug O'Neill, whose Derby team has been faltering of late. When things were going well for him, his campaign for Great Hunter seemed innovative; now, it seems a little wacky. Four months off before the Bob Lewis, followed by an easy win against what I thought was middling competition. Then another seven weeks off with just two workouts....and then on to the Derby three weeks later.

O'Neill says: "We're definitely in the [Blue Grass] to win it, then come out of it good and be solid in 3 weeks."
"I think it's going to be a pretty [slow] run race early and then just a dash home," O'Neill said. "Whatever happens, happens. Those kinds of races are almost like turf races. Horses generally bounce out of them in better shape." [Philadelphia Daily News]
He feels that a race on Polytrack will serve the colt well in terms of coming back three weeks hence. But I don't know if I'm buying the whole plan.

As for the rest of them, I believe it's a race to fill in the trifecta ticket. Zanjero is a solidly consistent late closer who I actually wouldn't mind having at 55-1 in the Derby futures pool. Dominican looks like a Polytrack specialist who could certainly sneak in for third. But I think that if the price is right, Teuflesberg might be worth a look for the minor award. He did beat Ravel on this track last fall. And he missed the break in the Rebel and was taken completely out of his game, yet still finished third. Whatsmore, there ain't no other early speed in here. So we could be looking at a cold triple of Street Sense/Great Hunter/Teuflesberg.

- Steve Crist has some facts and figures regarding the low Beyers we've seen in the three-year old division thus far:
This is the first year since 1993 that neither the Florida Derby, Wood, nor Santa Anita Derby has yielded a Beyer in excess of 100. For the record, those 1993 slow-prep winners were Personal Hope, Bull Inthe Heather, and Storm Tower, who ran fourth, 11th, and 16th behind Sea Hero at Churchill Downs. The only other time since 1991 that even two of those races have earned only double-digit Beyers was in 2004, when Tapit and Friends Lake won the Wood and Florida Derby in slow performances and then ran ninth and 15th in the slop behind Smarty Jones.

Unlike some years when there has been ambiguity surrounding the speed figures earned in preps, this year's numbers have been straightforward. It's the quality of the division's leaders that's hard to make sense of, and horseplayers will have their hands full on Derby Day deciding what to do with a full field of horses whose achievements are so disparate but whose speed figures are so closely bunched together. [Daily Racing Form (sub. or print edition only).

- And more trouble at the Big A. There have been questions about the condition of the main track and its ability to handle rain, and after yesterday's downpour, the jockeys < refused to ride there today on Thursday following the second race. "Just very inconsistent, a lot of wash-out spots that you couldn't even get close to the rail," said Mike Smith. [DRF]


Anonymous said...

I think it might be a mistake to dismiss DOMINICAN as a polytrack specialist. Remember, the horse ran in a stakes late in his two year old season on the CD surface and posted a very respectable 90 beyer. Then he comes off the bench and just lopes on past the leaders in the Rushaway to put up a 95. He's developing beautifully and will win going away tomorrow at 7-1.

Also worth noting, it's going to rain like cwazy in Kentucky tomorrow. Someone I trust said it doesn't effect the polytrack, but I have my doubts.

Anonymous said...

On, John Asher noted that Street Sense's workout featured intentionally very slow early fractions, followed by relatively fast ones. So all in all it was slow, but apparently that was part of the plan for this late closing colt.

Harl said...

Doug O'Neill owes me money.

Anonymous said...

Ooo, that's a bold prediction on DOMINICAN, not that I don't think he's not a nice horse!

And I could be wrong, of course...but I don't think that Kevin is going to get any payback from O'Neill in this race.

Anonymous said...

A real test for Polytrack today, big storm a brewin!

What do you all think of Curlin. If he wins tomorrow and breaks through to 100+, which looks like a logical progression, what kind of price you think this lightly raced undefeated colt will be on Derby Day? Thinking he may have star potential.

I am playing Curly over Delightful Kiss and Deadly Dealer. 2/1-10.

In the annals of stupid things done to horses in pursuit of The Derby Dream, Olympic Chief's debut today in the ARK deserves and honorable mention. I hate to even give them the satisfaction of posting his name, but can not hold this ridiculous move against the horse, just hope he, doesnt get in anyone's way and cost legitamate connections a chance of THEIR dream(after all there are major implications in this race). comes out of the race ok, and finds his way to a more caring home.

In BG, Dominican IS a polytrack specialist (2-2, 0-4 elsewhere), which means he will be overbet by the locals. May get a share, but will not be on my ticket as he had has a few shots vs. the top tier and will be an underlay.

I am using Teufy, Times Squared (million dollar colt, 1-1 poly) and Love Dubai (first lasix, liked him last week in ILL) as bombs in the third slot.


Good Luck.

Mr. Ed

Anonymous said...

If Curlin wins with a big fig, I think that bettors will be all over him in the Derby. People love undefeated and I think they'll welcome a relatively new face in a year where we've seen familiar faces turn in average performances. With a big effort and depending on what happens in the BG, he could be what, 4th or 5th choice, y'think?

Anonymous said...

Curly is 6-1 in the futures pool as I write this, so someone thinks highly of his chances.

Valerie Grash said...

Oh, Curlin did a pretty job today, I think. I'd rate his chances in the Derby more highly than Dominican. Did you see Notional is out now? Broken cannon bone in left front leg. Happened this morning after gallop at Keeneland.

Anonymous said...

Curly is your Derby fave and new American icon.

Tremendous talent, not sure what he beat, but a force to be reckdoned with. Questionable at 10f, but arent they all?

Sad about Notional, this whole crop was holding togethar so well.