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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sunday Night Notes - May 6

- Now that Street Sense has gotten past the Derby with only two preps, you'd think that he is uniquely prepared to handle the second and third legs of the series. Whereas the two weeks between the races is considered far too little these days, Nafzger said, “The two weeks should be perfect for him.” [NY Times]

As of now, it looks like just the first three from the Derby will run back at Pimlico. Hard Spun's trainer Larry Jones said: "You'd think I could have gotten a little help from those 15 jockeys between me and Street Sense and close that rail down." [Brisnet] Borel had one crucial moment, when Street Sense ran up behind Sedgefield. But at that point, with horses tiring outside of him, he was able to just seamlessly float out one path and go around him. Don't you think that one of these days, that spot won't be there, and he'll be boxed in on the rail? It just seems that everything has gone Street Sense's way in his two biggest wins. Give the horse credit of course; the way he accelerates, perhaps he's going too fast for the other riders to react. But there's no question he's been fortunate.

I think that the fact that Hard Spun actually would have won the race had Street Sense run into an impossible spot shows just how weak this edition was overall. I'm not denigrating the winner, or the second and third horses....ok, maybe the second horse a little....but most of the horses in the field just didn't do much running, at least after the quarter pole. Given the way Hard Spun steadily slowed down over the running of the race, I think that Street Sense saved a little face for the rest of the crop.

The Derby winner will remain at Churchill, and ship to Pimlico three days before the race.

Calvin Borel will attend a state dinner at the White House in honor of the Queen. If he makes his usual move over to the left, he'll probably be escorted out by the Secret Service.

- "Molengao -- WOW!" exclaimed Vic Stauffer at the finish of the Mervin LeRoy at Hollywood and man, did you see the way he rocketed away from that field? Victor Espinoza was just cruising along as he circled the field five wide, and once he asked him to go, he was gone! This six year old Brazilian-bred son of Royal Academy was overmatched at this level last year, but this year he has two graded stakes wins, and a close second to Lava Man in the G1 Santa Anita Handicap. And here he successfully translated his form to the Cushion Track, on which he's thrived. He's being pointed to the Hollywood Gold Cup, and a possible date with Lava Man should that one be recovered from his ill-conceived trip to Dubai.

- Not a good weekend for Richard Dutrow at Belmont. He had two big favorites - even money Privy Seal and 7-10 Frost Giant - that went down on Derby Day. And on Sunday, his Holly Time got beat at 8-5, and man, this colt has burned a ton of money in his last three starts.

Trainer Tom Bush won two consecutive grass maiden races on Sunday, one with first-timer Tears I Cry; 5-1 morning, she was slammed down to 2-1 and held off another debut runner in Clifton Bay; hello. This trainer's well-meant first-timers are not very well kept secrets. Tears I Cry is by the dead stallion Chester House, out of a Danzig mare who is a half sister to the dam of European champion Shamardal, and to none other than Street Cry, the sire of Street Sense. Her second dam is Helen Street, winner of the Grade 1 Irish Oaks.


Anonymous said...

I defend Hard Spun entirely here. Rather than say that he faded, I'd say he hung on fantastically compared to the other front runners who dropped like flies.

Another commenter asked if the track favored closers or speed, given the 1-2 finishers, and the answer is that the two best horses showed themselves. Thing is, the winner got lucky. Hard Spun simply ran well.

I believe the Preakness, run with the same strategies, and hopefully the same jockeys, will unfold differently and perhaps the trifecta will include the same horses.

The big difference will be lack of traffic, good for Curlin, and should be good for Street Sense, but since he got lucky in that regard, it will not benefit him. Plus, the unfamiliar track will also play against him. Should be a fantastic race.

Alan Mann said...

Robin -

I think I'm going to take the negative tack on Hard Spun. Now there's no denying his talent and speed, and yes, he battled hard to the very end. But he ran fast early, and slow late. Maybe I'm more down on his rider than the horse himself...but the fact that he ran that 4th quarter in nearly 26 seconds and actually widened his lead is an indictment of those that were chasing him in my opinion.

I know horses always slow down in American racing; and for some reason, people like Andy Beyer seem to think that's a good thing. But I looked back at the fractions in War Emblem's Derby, the last horse to go wire-to-wire. He went 23.25, 23.79, 24.73, 24.95, and came home in 24.43. Don't know how fast the track was that year compared to this year, but those are legitimate front-running fractions. Hard Spun started out fast and just slowed down...and he may have been aided by a rail bias.

So I'm going to oppose him two weeks hence, barring any further developments, such as Prado getting the mount. I also think that he's more subject to a bounce than SS or Curlin, since the Preakness will be his second race in two weeks, after six weeks off.

Anonymous said...

Good points, yes, I am also afraid he'll simply bounce. Jones already announced Pino will ride. Whatever happens, this Preakness is setting up to be very exciting. Good luck.

Alan Mann said...

robin - Of course, you don't have to go very far on this site to see how wrong I was about the Derby, so keep the faith! :)