The Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I) champion has been freshened by trainer Carl Nafzger since a second-place finish behind Curlin in the Preakness (gr. I) May 19. With the 1 1/18-mile Jim Dandy safely tucked in the win column, Nafzger and company can concentrate on getting their classic winner ready for Saratoga's $1 million Travers (gr. I) on Aug. 25 at the 10-furlong Derby distance.
A crowd of 46,876 on-track turned out to see Street Sense.
Teamed with regular rider Calvin Borel, who has been aboard for all 10 of the colt's starts, Street Sense saved ground near the rear of the small field before moving up along the inside leaving the three-eighths pole. The Street Cry colt waited patiently when bottled up along the inside as pacesetters Flashstorm and C P West held in the favorite. In upper stretch, C P West, ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, drifted out a bit, giving Borel room to maneuver off the fence. Street Sense angled to the outside of the fading Flashstorm and pounded past C P West inside the eighth pole under some urging from Borel to win with something left by 1 1/2 lengths. The winning time was 1:48 4/5 on a fast track.
Borel blew kisses to the crowd as he crossed the finish line, and then was cheered again when he brought Street Sense to the winner's circle.
"We learned a lot from this trip," Nafzger said. "We laid a little bit closer today. That was our plan. They got him in a trap and kept him there, but he got out and he responded. I was concerned;, you’re always concerned until you get out. You don’t know how much that can take out of your horse. Once he got out, he came on with his run.
"It was a good, solid prep to get him ready for the Travers. I know C P West will probably be back and probably a couple of others and Curlin, too. It’s going to be a tough race. You should see a horse with more timing, more rhythm, and more fitness than he had today. He has a race over the track now; that should be an advantage.”
“It’s great to have him back," Borel said. "He needed this race. It’s really going to move him forward. He leveled off beautifully. He got beat last time in a great horse race. I can’t take anything away from Curlin, but my colt is coming back better and stronger than he was in the spring. He finished great, and I still had some horse.
"Horses like him come once in a lifetime. I’ve always thought that he was this kind of horse. He was just awesome today. A horse like him is what it is all about.”
C P West finished stubbornly for second in a big effort for trainer Nick Zito. C P West held off Sightseeing, who finished with interest for jockey Edgar Prado, by three-quarters of a length.
"I stayed in good position, and at the quarter pole, he ran big," Velasquez said. "But (Street Sense) is a very nice horse. My horse ran a big one today.”
“I’m excited," Zito said. "He ran second to a champion. We’re ecstatic about running in these kind of races.”
Trainer Shug McGaughey said he was encouraged by Sightseeing's effort.
"We’ll take a look at the Haskell (gr. I) and see what happens, and if Sightseeing does really well and the owners want to run in the Travers, I sure wouldn’t be opposed to that,” McGaughey said of the Phipps Stable homebred.
Illinois Derby (gr. II) winner Cowtown Cat, Flashstorm and Tiz Wonderful trailed.
Disappointing was second choice Tiz Wonderful, undefeated in three starts as a juvenile who was making his 2007 debut in the Jim Dandy for trainer Steve Asmussen. Tiz Wonderful was steadied when rank early and continued to pull John Velazquez on the outside while pressing the pace four wide through fractions of :23 2/5, :47 and 1:11 3/5. He faded on the final turn.
Never worse than third in his career, the dark bay Street Sense -- last year's juvenile champion -- earned his fifth victory while bumping his earnings to $3,458,200 with Sunday's $300,000 winning purse for owner and breeder James B. Tafel.
Sent off at odds of 3-10, Street Sense paid $2.70, $2.30, and $2.10. C P West, last seen finishing fifth in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 9, returned $5 and $3.40 while completing a $10.60 exacta. Peter Pan (gr. II) winner Sightseeing was $3 to show.