(Edited Churchill Downs release)
James Tafel's Street Sense, the winner of the $2 million Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), returned to the track on Thursday for the first time since last Saturday's narrow loss to Curlin in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course.
The homebred son of Street Cry galloped a mile over a "fast" surface under exercise rider Mark Cutler.
Trainer Carl Nafzger said Street Sense remained on the list of "possible" starters for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), the 1 ½-mile third jewel of the Triple Crown scheduled for June 9 at Belmont Park.
Stonestreet Farm, Padua Stable, George Bolton and Midnight Cry Stable's Curlin had another routine morning of training over the Churchill Downs track. Trainer Steve Asmussen looked on as the son of Smart Strike schooled at the starting gate and then galloped 1 ¼ miles under regular exercise rider Carmen Rosas.
Asmussen said that Curlin remained on course for a bid in the Belmont Stakes and would breeze early Monday morning at Churchill Downs. Current plans are to work Curlin in the second set of Asmussen's horses that morning, which would put him on the track around 6:15 a.m. (all times EDT) on the Memorial Day holiday.
Meanwhile, J. Paul Reddam’s Great Hunter worked five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 over Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track Thursday morning with exercise rider Tony Romero up, his first work since finishing 13th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on May 5. The Aptitude colt is a definite starter for the 139th running of the grade I, $1 million Belmont Stakes on June 9.
“He worked great,” trainer Doug O’Neill said from California. “I got him galloping out in 1:13 and 1:27.”
O’Neill said the colt has given him all the right indications that he is ready to bounce back off his poor Derby performance.
“His coat and weight looks as good as it did going into the Derby,” O’Neill said.
One of the key factors leading to Great Hunter’s Derby disappointment was his behavior in the paddock.
“He’s either going to New York on June 4th or 5th,” O’Neill said. “That will give him a couple of chances to school in the paddock there.”
Jockey Corey Nakatani rode Great Hunter in the Derby, but O’Neill said he “hasn’t figured to a rider” for the Belmont.
Also in New York, trainer Barclay Tagg all but ruled out a Belmont start for Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Nobiz Like Shobiz, who breezed five furlongs 1:00 1/5 over Belmont’s fast main track Thursday.
“He worked great, I thought,” Tagg said of the move with jockey Cornelio Velasquez up. “He galloped out six furlongs in 1:13, but I’m not planning on running him in the Belmont.”
A number of factors were considered by Tagg and owner Elizabeth Valando concerning the Wood Memorial winner’s potential run in the Belmont.
“If it were a walkover or a two-horse race, I would run,” Tagg said. “A $1-million race is a $1-million race. Right now, I’m planning on races like the Dwyer, Jim Dandy and Travers,” Tagg said.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said Thursday that Circular Quay and the impressive filly Rags to Riches are both training well, but he would not make a decision on whether or not either or both would run in the Belmont Stakes for at least another week.