Street Sense and Hard Spun, the one-two finishers in the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), drew outside post positions for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (gr. I), which as expected attracted a field of nine. Their connections, however, didn’t seem concerned with the draw.
Street Sense, a son of Street Cry owned by James Tafel and trained by Carl Nafzger, drew post eight and is the 7-5 morning line favorite, while Fox Hill Farm’s Hard Spun, trained by Larry Jones, drew post seven as the 5-2 second pick. Street Sense and Hard Spun will be ridden by Calvin Borel and Mario Pino, respectively.
“Calvin said he can win from anywhere on the track,” Tafel said during Wednesday’s post-position draw in Baltimore. “I think he can run from anywhere.”
Preakness favorites have won five of the last six times.
Street Sense, who has won four of eight starts with earnings of $2,958,200, arrived at Pimlico on Wednesday afternoon, a day after his final tuneup at Churchill Downs.
"He's here and he's doing good," Nafzger said.
Street Sense became the first Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner in 24 tries to capture the Derby.
"He's a fitter horse now and he's a happy horse," Nafzger said.
With a win in the Preakness, Street Sense would be in position to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
Jones said the post isn’t a concern; Hard Spun won the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway from post 10, and did so rating off the leaders. “We’ll let (jockey) Mario (Pino) play the game as it happens,” the trainer said. He also noted that Street Sense's 2 1/4-length Derby victory commenced from post seven.
"It was a good number for the Derby, so hopefully it will work for the Preakness," Jones said.
Curlin, the Derby third-place Derby finisher owned by Stonestreet Stables, Padua Stables, George Bolton, and the Midnight Cry Stable, drew post four for trainer Steve Asmussen. Robby Albarado is back aboard. He's the 7-2 third choice on the morning line.
Curlin was forced to drop well back early in the Derby but made up ground late in what was his first major test. Asmussen assistant Scott Blasi said Asmussen wanted to assess the colt’s mental fitness after the trip at Churchill Downs.
“We wanted to make sure he was OK with everything,” Blasi said. “He’s doing great. Street Sense is a great horse, so he’ll have to run to beat him.”
Marshall Dowell’s Mint Slewlep, fourth in the Withers Stakes (gr. III), drew post one with jockey Alan Garcia. Circle Z Stables Xchanger, the only Preakness starter with a race at Pimlico, drew post two with jockey Ramon Dominguez. Xchanger, trained by Mark Shuman, impressively won the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico in his last start and has been pointed to the Preakness.
Michael and Doreen Tabor’s Circular Quay, sixth in the Derby for trainer Todd Pletcher, drew post three with John Velazquez, while another Pletcher trainee, Team Valor’s King of the Roxy, drew post five with Garrett Gomez. King of the Roxy was second in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and also was pointed to the Preakness.
“We were never looking at the Kentucky Derby,” Team Valor president Barry Irwin said. “He wasn’t ready for it.”
Pletcher, the three-time Eclipse Award winner, sent out a record-tying five starters in the Derby, with Circular Quay his best finisher. Pletcher is 0-for-19 in the Derby, but just 0-for-1 in the Preakness. Impeachment was third in 2000.
"Clearly, Street Sense is the horse to beat," Pletcher said. "I think what we all have to hope for, those of us who are running against him, is that he's not as good away from Churchill as he is at Churchill Downs."
Ellwood Johnston’s Flying First Class, who won the Derby Trial at Churchill for trainer D. Wayne Lukas in his last start, drew post six with Mark Guidry. Robert LaPenta’s C P West, third in the Withers for trainer Nick Zito, drew post nine with Edgar Prado.
Street Sense boarded a plane in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday and arrived at Pimlico at about 4 p.m. Eastern time, just before a thunderstorm hit the track. Storms, some of them severe, were forecast for late afternoon and evening along with lower temperatures.
“He was taking it a lot better in his stall than I was,” Nafzger said soon after the colt’s arrival at Pimlico.
Post time for the Preakness is 6:09 p.m. Saturday.
It’s the 12th race on a 13-race program at Old Hilltop.