Curlin, who suffered his first defeat in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), kept gaining down the stretch and got past Street Sense in the final strides to win the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) Saturday at Pimlico.
On a day that began with beautiful spring weather in Baltimore and shifted to sporadic light rain late in the racing day, 121,263 packed Pimlico, the largest crowd to witness a sporting event in Maryland, surpassing last year's Preakness, when 118,402 attended.
A total of $87,202,550 was bet on the entire racing card, the fourth highest in history.
In just his fourth lifetime start, Curlin ran third in the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. In his fifth start, the son of Smart Strike became a classic winner with his narrow defeat of the Derby victor.
Curlin -- who stumbled badly leaving the gat.-- was ridden by Robby Albarado, who two races earlier fell when his mount had to alter course around a fallen horse.
The top three finishers in the Derby -- Street Sense, Hard Spun, and Curlin -- also finished one-two-three in the Preakness, though not in the same order as Hard Spun slipped back to third in the Preakness.
Xchanger made the lead out of the gate, followed by Flying First Class, Hard Spun, and King of the Roxy. The positions did not change as the field went through the first turn and straightened out down the backside, the opening quarter in :22.82 and the half in :45.75.
Finally, Hard Spun, who had led the Derby field into deep stretch, got the nudge from Mario Pino and took the lead as they went six furlongs in a fast 1:09.80. As they were in the final bend of the turn for home, Curlin was three wide and Calvin Borel brought Street Sense through on the rail and then angled out, easily going by Curlin and taking the lead.
Street Sense spurted away and looked like he might sweep the first two legs of the Triple Crown, but Curlin dug in and came back at the Derby winner. He caught him right on the wire, the margin a short head.
The final time was 1:53.46.
“Heartbreaking, that’s what it was," said Street Sense's trainer, Carl Nafzger. "We only needed a nose. Curlin ran a hell of a race, but we had Curlin. We should have never let him come back and get us."The time essentially tied the track record, set by Secretariat in 1973 when timing was done in fifths and was 1:53 2/5.
Borel said he thought he had beaten both Hard Spun and Curlin. “I thought it was all over when I got by Hard Spun turning for home," Borel said. "I thought he was just going to gallop. But things happen. He just got to gawking 40 yards from home and he just got outrun.
"I went up on the inside of (Curlin), and (Robby Albarado) was riding already and I was sitting, so I thought he was finished. I kept hearing him, and I looked under my arm and saw him. I thought I rode a perfect race, and Carl did too."
“(When he stumbled) I had to go to plan B,” Albarado said. “I had to use him a bit more than I wanted early, but I was always content with where I was. When Street Sense rolled up there and spurted away, I knew I had horse left and he exploded for me.”
Curlin is owned by Stonestreet Stables (Jess Jackson), Padua Stables (Satish Sanan), George Bolton, and Midnight Cry Stables (William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham Jr.). He made his first start for Midnight Cry and trainer Helen Pitts but then a majority interest was sold to the other parties and he was transferred to Steve Asmussen.
Following his first start, when he broke his maiden by 12 3/4 at Gulfstream Feb. 3, Asmussen called Jackson, who asked bloodstock agent John Moynihan to put together a group to see if they could purchase the colt. Jackson credited Moynihan with his work on the deal.
Asmussen, who was capturing his first Preakness victory, had previously saddled Snuck In in 2000 and Easyfromthegitgo in 2002, both of whom ran fifth.
“He was further back than we wanted and was late switching leads down the stretch,” Asmussen said. “Street Sense deserved to win the Derby, and Curlin deserved to win the Preakness.”
Albarado had previously ridden in the Preakness six times, his best finish second on Midway Road in 2003. He also was third on Classic Cat in 1998.
Curlin paid $8.80, $3.80, and $2.80 while Street Sense returned $3 and $2.40. Hard Spun held on for third and paid $3.
Out of the Deputy Minister mare Sheriff’s Deputy, Curlin was bred in Kentucky by Fares Farm, owned by Isaam Fares and located just behind Keeneland.
The complete order of finish was Curlin, Street Sense, Hard Spun, C P West, Circular Quay, King of the Roxy, Mint Slewlep, Xchanger, and Flying First Class.
Curlin has earned $1,602,800 four wins in five starts.