Street Sense, winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), worked five furlongs in a snappy 1:00 at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning as the Street Cry colt completed his preparations for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico.
With regular jockey Calvin Borel aboard, Street Sense went to the track soon after sunrise over the Louisville, Ky., oval. With a large national and local media contingent and a few fans on hand, the colt stopped periodically to take in his surroundings en route to the track.
Street Sense, who won the 1 1/4-miles Kentucky Derby May 5 with a come-from-behind rail skimming ride by Borel, will be seeking the second leg of the coveted Triple Crown in the 1 3/16 miles Preakness. The 1 1/2 miles Belmont Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park June 9 completes the Triple Crown.
Once on the track, the colt was all business, getting fractional splits of :12 3/5, :25, :37, and :48 3/5 for a half-mile. After completing the five-eighths of a mile work, Street Sense galloped out six furlongs (three quarters of a mile) in 1:12 3/5.
Although trainer Carl Nafzger had wanted a work time of about 1:02, he was pleased with the final time because of the way in which the colt did it. Nafzger said he preferred a five-furlong work rather than a half-mile clip for the final Preakness prep so the colt would have sufficient time to stride out.
“He worked a lot faster than we thought, but he did it the right way and it didn’t hurt him,” said Nafzger, adding that the work was in line with the :58 2/5 five-furlong work for Street Sense prior to winning the Derby. “The horse did it without any effort. He wasn’t charging the bit. He wasn’t trying to work….he looked very happy coming off the track. I don’t think he even took a deep breath. He did it easy. He didn’t come unraveled. He didn’t stress.”
Borel agreed that the work was not too fast. “He worked super good. He is going forward every trip, work-wise.”
The jockey said he is not concerned about Street Sense’s chance of winning the Preakness, despite the shorter distance of the race. The rider also said he will familiarize himself with the track by riding in other races at the track Friday and Saturday.
“It’s a race track and it’s round. I know how to get around there…I will get the feel of the track, which is all I need. It doesn’t have much of a stretch, so you might have to move a little earlier, but it’s not unlike some other tracks I’ve been on before.”
The affable Nafzger, who won the 1990 Derby with Unbridled, was relaxed as he talked about winning this year’s Derby and how he is handling the pressure of training another high-profile horse.
“I look like a genius right now, but if I get beat in the Preakness I will go back to being Carl,” he said.
Although he does not like to speculate on how a major race will unfold, Nafzger said the Preakness contenders with whom he is familiar have the potential to win the race.
“Curlin is going to improve a lot out of the race,” Nafzger said of the Derby third-place finisher. “Hard Spun (the Derby front-runner who eventually finished second) has got to pick it up just a notch because there is going to be a lot of competition there with him.”
Nafzger said D. Wayne Lukas-trained Flying First Class, runaway winner of the Derby Trial at Churchill, is also capable of winning the Preakness and that King of the Roxy is a “monster.”
The trainer said Circular Quay (Derby sixth-place finisher), would be a “formidable foe” if trainer Todd Pletcher decides to run the colt in the Preakness.
Street Sense finished third, behind Great Hunter and Circular Quay, in the Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland last fall before avenging that loss by defeating Circular Quay in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
Nafzger said there is not a lot that a trainer can do to prepare a horse for the Preakness, considering the two-week interval between the Derby and the Pimlico race. “That’s easy; you’re either there or you’re not there because you don’t have time to do anything. When you go back to the Belmont, that’s a different scenario. You are going a mile and a half and secondly you are shifting to big sweeping turns. Thirdly, you’re shifting to (a) big sandy (track). And you’ve got three weeks. But that’s a whole different scenario and I will worry about it after we get through the Preakness.”
Street Sense, owned and bred by Jim Tafel, is scheduled to depart Louisville for Baltimore at mid-day Wednesday.
Meanwhile, trainer D. Wayne Lukas was more than satisfied a half-mile work by Flying First Class Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs.
“We got exactly what we wanted,” Lukas said of the work by the Derby Trial winner. “The one thing I told Stacy Pryor, the exercise girl, is `Please do not break 49 (seconds).’ I just wanted him to stretch his legs a little bit. I told her to stay on the north side of 49. She went 49 4/5, which was perfect.
“We were real pleased with it. I actually slowed him down a little bit in the lane. It was good. I thought he had done enough,” Lukas said. “We’re Tuesday going on a Saturday and we’ve got a dead-fit horse. I didn’t want to do any more.”