Street Sense Works; Decision on Belmont Due Thursday
Street Sense, winner of the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), worked a half-mile May 30 at Churchill Downs as his owner, Jim Tafel, and trainer, Carl Nafzger, consider a possible start in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), the final jewel of racing's Triple Crown.
The homebred son of Street Cry breezed four furlongs over a "fast" track in :49 under jockey Calvin Borel. Street Sense covered the distance in fractions of :12.80, :24.60, and :36.60, and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.80. The work ranked 19th out of 39 at the distance.
The work was the first for the colt since Curlin nipped him at the finish of the May 19 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course. Borel never asked Street Sense for speed during his work and described the work as a "perfect" move.
"He's doing good," Borel said. "Carl's got him on the right track. It's up to Carl now. He told me what to do with him this morning, and I did what he wanted. We're just going to go from here. He's as good as before, or better."
"There's something about this horse--he's a fast work horse," Nafzger said. "I don't necessarily say that's an asset or not, but he worked :49 this morning and never did drop his head."
Nafzger was asked if the apparent ease in which Street Sense completed his first work since his narrow defeat in the Preakness made it any tougher to reach a decision on a possible run in the Belmont. An announcement on the colt's Belmont Stakes status is scheduled at Churchill Downs May 31, when Nafzger will reveal that decision during a media briefing at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time in the Derby Room in the Jockey Club Suites.
"That makes Mr. Tafel's decision harder," Nafzger said. "All I have to do is fill him in on where we're at."
Nafzger said long-range goals for Street Sense are the Travers Stakes (gr. I)--the so-called "Midsummer Derby" at Saratoga--and the Breeders' Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Monmouth Park.
If Tafel decides to take Street Sense to the 1½-mile Belmont, Nafzger said there would still be time to give the colt a break before reaching for those objectives. But if the colt runs in the Belmont, Nafzger said he would likely train up to the Travers. If he skips the Belmont, he would have a prep before the Travers, with that race mostly likely being the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth or the Jim Dandy (gr. II) at Saratoga.
"We've got plenty of time to go anywhere we want," the trainer said. "He has been amazing. He has taken us to every race, and he'll take us to these races."
Borel, for one, would love a rematch with Curlin, who rallied to defeat Street Sense by a short head in the Preakness. "Curlin beat him last time, but I don't think he'll ever do it again," Borel said. "I just think the horse is improving and he's just getting better every race. We learned a little bit more about him, and I don't think he can beat him."
In other Belmont-related news, Stonestreet Farms, Padua Stables, George Bolton, and Midnight Cry Stables' Curlin galloped at Churchill May 30 as he continued his preparations for the Belmont. The chestnut son of Smart Strike galloped 1¼-miles over a "fast" surface under exercise rider Carmen Rosas. Trainer Steve Asmussen, who was scheduled to fly back to Texas later in the day, looked on as the colt made his first trip to the track since he worked an easy half-mile May 28.
"We're extremely pleased with him," Asmussen said. "He went back to the track really well today."
Curlin is scheduled to work again June 4 and board a plane to New York the following day.
The Preakness victory was the first classic victory and most significant career win for Asmussen, who has led the nation in victories on three occasions. He said one aspect of the aftermath of Curlin's Preakness win has taken him by surprise.
"I'm amazed how emotional it's made me," Asmussen said. "There's just so many personal levels--all the things that go into it. Curlin is who got it done and who got us here. And (assistant trainer) Scott Blasi and Carmen Rosas, the job that they've done hasn't been mentioned enough. We did the same job before anybody was reporting on him and still are."
An ankle injury has sent Silverton Hill Farm's Sedgefield to the sidelines and taken the fifth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby out of consideration for a run in the Belmont.
Trainer Darrin Miller said the son of Smart Strike came out of a May 28 workout with a chip in his left front ankle that will require surgery. He said the colt would have the chip removed in surgery scheduled for June 4 at Rood & Riddle equine clinic in Lexington, Ky.
"The prognosis is good," Miller said. "It's unfortunate, but I think he'll be all right."
Sedgefield had breezed four furlongs over a "fast" track in :48.20 at Churchill.
Miller had been looking at the Ohio Derby (gr. II) June 2 at Thistledown and the Belmont Stakes as possible options for Sedgefield. The Kentucky Derby was the first start on dirt for Sedgefield, a full brother to multiple grade I turf winner English Channel, who has a career record of 2-3-0 in nine races and has earned $240,093.
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