When all is said and done, the 139th Belmont Stakes (gr. I) has turned out to be a heck of a good race after all, Street Sense or no Street Sense. We have seven legitimate horses, with none of the usual no-hopers that seem to pop out of the woodwork for the third leg of the Triple Crown, and a classic male vs. female showdown.
The paddock opens at 11:30 for schooling. One of the first to arrive is Belmont (gr. I) entrant Tiago. Trainer John Shirreffs, his stepson David Ingordo, and Frankie Herrarte, a member of his crew, follows the Pleasant Tap colt, who is led by Frank Leal.
Jerry Bailey, known as an astute handicapper when he was carving out his Hall of Fame riding career, gave his thoughts on Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) while standing on the track's apron Thursday morning.
Slew's Tizzy and Hard Spun, who figure to be the pacesetters in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), drew next to each other at the post position draw Wednesday morning at Belmont Park. Curlin, the classic-winning morning line favorite in the seven-horse field, drew post three.
Breeding rights secured by Darley for one-two Kentucky Derby finishers.
The suspense was so thick, you could cut it with a...Well, maybe it wasn't quite that thick, but at least there was a some anticipation to see what Todd Pletcher was going to do regarding Rags to Riches' status in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). After putting off his decision as long as possible, he finally made the announcement at 9:30 Tuesday morning.
Trainer Todd Pletcher announced Tuesday morning that the filly Rags to Riches will contest the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and be ridden by John Velazquez. Also, trainer Greg Fox said Rafael Bejarano has been named to ride Slew's Tizzy.
While Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Curlin put in his final preparations for Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Monday was a quiet day for other contenders for the $1-million classic.
Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Curlin completed his serious preparation for Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) with a four-furlong work at Churchill Downs on Monday, June 4.
With the additions of Digger and Time Squared, there are seven probable starters in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Belmont Stakes (gr. I) contenders Hard Spun, Imawildandcrazyguy, and Tiago, as well as Todd Pletcher-trained candidates Rags to Riches and Circular Quay, all hit the Belmont main track for work-outs Sunday morning.
Slew's Tizzy had his final major pre-Belmont Stakes workout Saturday morning at The Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington, Ky. The colt breezed a half mile over the facility's conventional dirt track for trainer Gregory Fox.
With the racing world still rocking from the bombshell dropped by Carl Nafzger Thursday morning, all thoughts immediately turned to the two big horses who will remain on their Triple Crown journey and the two trainers who elected to see it through to its conclusion.
With the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) fast approaching, trainers of the expected contenders were making plans for travel and pre-race works May 31.
Five days after the Preakness (gr. I) and people are still talking about the race, asking the same questions. How did Street Sense lose? How remarkable was Curlin's performance? Did Mario Pino make a blunder or did he make the right move that just didn't turn out right? Why was Calvin Borel looking behind him in deep stretch?
Owner Rick Porter and trainer Larry Jones have named Garrett Gomez to ride Hard Spun in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), replacing Mario Pino, who had ridden the colt in all eight of his previous starts. As of now, Hard Spun is considered 98% certain to run, according to Porter.
Thoroughbred racing is a sport of contrasting emotions, ranging from euphoria to despair and laced with a heavy dose of what might have beens. It often takes a special horse to bring all those emotions to the surface, and after watching the 132nd Preakness Stakes (gr. I), there is no doubt that Curlin is that kind of horse.
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) Saturday at Pimlico.
There were few surprises in Friday's early wagering on Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Racecourse, with Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense the predictable favorite.
Unlike the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), the Preakness (gr. I) cannot be assessed through observations, as the horses shipped in to Pimlico just days before the race and have not been visible enough to be judged off works or even gallops.
Mario Pino, long based in Maryland and a regular in other Mid-Atlantic states, has a lot of people rooting for him and his mount, Hard Spun, in Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course.
The autograph hounds were on the prowl Thursday morning at Pimlico, with Kentucky Derby winning trainer Carl Nafzger signing an oversized print of Street Sense to benefit a Pennsylvania charity.
Street Sense and Hard Spun, the one-two finishers in the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, drew outside post positions for Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I), which attracted a field of nine.
Hard Spun completed his preparations for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) with a quarter-mile blowout under jockey Mario Pino May 16 at Delaware Park.
By Bill Nack - The Derby, unique and demanding, requires that a horse be absolutely dead fit to win it.
Trainer Nick Zito said it's "all systems go" for Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) after C P West worked a half-mile at Belmont Park May 14. Meanwhile, Hard Spun, King of the Roxy, Xchanger, and Mint Slewlep all prepped for their run at the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Larry Jones, who is still having visions of Street Sense getting shut off somewhere - anywhere - in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), is just about ready to drop what might have been and focus all his attention on what will be.
The 133rd Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) was about a king, a queen, and a bunch of country boys. It was about a near-record crowd that erupted in celebration for its transplanted hometown heroes -- Street Sense, Carl Nafzger, and Calvin Borel. And it was about the end of a 23-year-old jinx. But most importantly, it was about class.
- By Dan Liebman
By Dan Liebman - More than anything else, this year's Run for the Roses is about relationships...and myths.
Larry Jones, in his familiar white cowboy hat, has become a recognizable figure during the build-up to the Triple Crown. The personable 50-year old conditioner might be switching to a black cowboy hat as he and his star Hard Spun hope to spoil the Triple Crown hopes of Street Sense and trainer Carl Nafzger in the $1 million Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course on May 19.
When Street Sense moves on to Pimlico Race Course for the May 19 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the Carl Nafzger-trained colt is likely to face only a few of the 19 horses he defeated in Saturday's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
The jinx has been broken. Calvin Borel and Street Sense won the $2.2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) Saturday, the first Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner to return at 3 and win the Derby.
With a 60% chance of rain in Louisville today, patrons going to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) would be well advised to pack a poncho. But leave the umbrella at home because that is one of the items banned from being brought into Churchill Downs.
Arriving in Kentucky two weeks ago, the feeling here was that there were two horses in particular to concentrate on who looked to be coming into the Derby with enough angles to make them live at a decent price. After watching most of the Derby horses work and gallop at Keeneland and Churchill, things have changed a bit, as has track condition.
The post position draw is history, and it is time for racing's greatest minds to start planning strategy. Will there be a fast pace or a slow pace? Do you send or take back and see what others do? Will the outside horses break sharply and try to get to the inside or take back and hope to get lucky to find the holes? The wheels are turning.
Massage helps Hard Spun work out all the kinks before Saturday's Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr.I).
The connections of Storm in May will have first choice when post positions are selected later this evening thanks to pulling the No. 1 pill during the pill pull at the racing office. In all 22 horses were entered. Reporting for Duty and Delightful Kiss did not draw into the body of the field due to lack of enough graded earnings.
It was 11:15, and the 11 a.m. post position selection draw at the racing office still had not begun, as owners and trainers of Kentucky Derby horses paced back and forth or just stood anxiously waiting to see if all their hard work was about to be nullified by some random, ominous-sounding number.
Welcome to Derby Week, or week 11 of the "Starting Gate," one person's look at this year's Kentucky Derby lineup. As we approach Wednesday, entry day, this how we would handicap the top 20 contenders for the May 5 Run for the Roses. Actual entry into America's greatest race is reliant on graded stakes earnings -- this lineup is based on some speculation, past performances, and potential performance on Saturday.
It takes a lot to steal the spotlight from Curlin, but at approximately 8:35 Monday morning, Hard Spun made Curlin's half-mile work two hours earlier seem like a distant memory. That's when the Lane's End (gr. II) winner went out and worked five furlongs in :57 3/5, all but leaving sparks as his feet hit the ground.
Richard Porter's Hard Spun scorched the Churchill Downs main track Monday morning, blazing five furlongs in :57 3/5 under regular rider Mario Pino. Hard Spun worked in company, for a while at least, with graded stakes winner Wildcat Bettie B.
To aid in unscientific handicapping (and for the entertainment of trivia aficionados), here are the stories behind the titles of this year's contenders for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
With speed the primary ingredient in the Thoroughbred, and true stamina being pushed deeper and deeper into a horse's pedigree, we have to try to find staying power wherever we can. Although old-fashioned stamina on the sire's side no longer is necessary to win the Derby, it still has been a main factor on the dam's side.
The racing industry's equine stars have one shot at winning the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr.I). Their riders, on the other hand, keep coming back for more. Here are the Derby records of several jockeys with prospective mounts in this year's Run for the Roses.
Trainer Larry Jones sent Kentucky Derby contender Hard Spun for a mile work over the Polytrack surface at Lexington's Keeneland Racecourse Monday, April 23.
Unbeaten Curlin, a dazzling winner of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) on Saturday, emerged as a strong favorite over such accomplished rivals as 2006 2-year-old champion Street Sense and Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Nobiz Like Shobiz when betting drew to a close in the third and final pool of Churchill Downs' 2007 Kentucky Derby Future Wager.
Unbeaten Curlin, the morning line favorite for Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park, is a slight favorite over juvenile champion Street Sense and Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Scat Daddy as betting on the third and final pool of Churchill Downs' 2007 Kentucky Derby Future Wager reached its midway point.
Fox Hill Farm's Hard Spun stamped his ticket to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) Thursday by breezing five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 1/5 at Churchill Downs and showing trainer Larry Jones that he handles the surface.
Juvenile champion Street Sense and grade I winner Nobiz Like Shobiz loom as the strong morning-line favorites heading into third and final Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool.
After the defection of Hard Spun, five horses remain as "probable" contenders for Saturday's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I), including Street Sense, Great Hunter, Zanjero, Dominican, and Teuflesberg. Starbase, from the stable of trainer D. Wayne Lukas, is also possible for the field.
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