By Ron Mitchell and Claire Novak
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).
As of Sunday morning, the only Derby starter confirmed for Pimlico was runner-up Hard Spun, who made the lead before being passed by the eventual winner in the stretch. Trainer Larry Jones said the Danzig colt would leave Churchill Downs Monday for his base at Delaware Park.Other possible starters from the Derby are Curlin (3rd), Sedgefield (5th), and Teuflesberg (17th), according to Maryland Jockey Club vice president of communications Mike Gathagan. Gathagan said the likely list of Preakness starters includes King of the Roxy, as well as Chelokee (3rd in the Florida Derby, gr. I); Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) winner Slew’s Tizzy; Sapling (gr. III) and Federico Tesio winner Xchanger; Withers Stakes runner-up C. P. West; and either Starbase (2nd in Lexington Stakes) or Derby Trail winner Flying First Class from the D. Wayne Lukas barn.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said his record-tying five Derby starters all emerged from the race without any problems but it was unlikely any would move on to the Preakness. Pletcher’s Circular Quay finished sixth in the Derby, and his other representatives were Any Given Saturday (8th), Sam P. (9th), Scat Daddy (18th), and Cowtown Cat (20th).
But Pletcher is planning to point Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) winner King of the Roxy toward the Preakness. Pletcher said Sam P. would remain at Churchill and would be aimed at a stakes there, with the other Derby starters scheduled to return to New York for a determination of their future plans.
Trainer Steve Asmussen, who saddled Curlin and Zanjero in the Derby, said both horses appeared to come out of the race well and would return to training Wednesday. Asmussen was satisfied with the game effort from Curlin, who made a bold run five-wide in the final furlong but couldn’t threaten top finishers Street Sense and Hard Spun.
“He ran very well to get up for third late,” Asmussen said of the chestnut son of Smart Strike. “He had Street Sense behind him and Hard Spun in front of him, and he got up for third in the Kentucky Derby in his fourth career start. I think he’s an exceptional horse, he’s that caliber of horse--those races are what he’s going to participate in. The Kentucky Derby is the toughest race any horse is going to incur--you can’t recreate it. If he comes out of the race well, I see a lot of nice races ahead of us.”
Asmussen said his other starter, Ron Winchell’s Zanjero (12th), also appeared to come out of the race without incident. The son of Cherokee Run had to steady when lacking room on the far turn and was also steadied again before the quarter-pole.
“It was a good race for him; he ran into trouble and didn’t pick it up after that,” Asmussen said. “If he comes out of the race in good order, I hope to see him run well down the road.”
Asmussen said he would talk to his owners before making a decision regarding a possible start in the Preakness.
Immediately after the Derby, trainer Bill Kaplan said fourth-place finisher Imawildandcrazyguy would be aimed at the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) because the added distance would be preferable for the horse. He said Storm in May (16th in the Derby) would likely return to grass racing.
Trainer Doug O’Neill said Great Hunter and Liquidity, the respective Derby 13th- and 14th-place finishers, would return to California, with their immediate plans uncertain. He did not completely rule out the Preakness, and said any final decision would left up to owner J. Paul Reddam.
“I think a return to California would be good for all of us,” O’Neill said.