This race is setting up nicely for Curlin
After Barbaro dismantled his opponents in the 2006 Kentucky Derby, there was a genuine sense that the son of Dynaformer was going to end the drought and become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
That, it turned out, was not to be. The dream ended abruptly when Barbaro was seriously injured seconds into the Preakness, casting a pall over Bernardini’s impressive victory.
The feeling that existed after last year’s Derby isn’t there for Street Sense.
Taking nothing away from the Street Cry colt’s victory two weeks ago at Churchill Downs, he simply doesn’t exude the same brilliance. Whereas Barbaro was unblemished entering Maryland, Street Sense has lost as many races — four — as he has won.
The Preakness will be the third start in five weeks for Street Sense, who before the Blue Grass and Kentucky Derby had run only twice in more than five months.
Another reason he could be vulnerable is that the Preakness is run at Pimlico, not Churchill Downs. Street Sense has won twice in other places but has turned in his two best efforts at Louisville. He won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile there by 10 lengths several months before his 21⁄ 4- length victory in the Derby.
Among the eight horses seeking to beat a colt who is 7-5 on the morning line and who will probably be shorter when post time arrives, the choice here, again, is Curlin. Third at 5-1 in the Derby, the Smart Strike colt can rebound from his first defeat in a race where he can’t help but get a better trip than he did in Kentucky.
Hindered by his No. 2 draw in the Derby, Curlin lost position early and was never able to fully recover.
Although he did not threaten the top two finishers, Curlin did finish well to be third. In a much smaller field in the Preakness, he should be able to establish position just behind the pacesetters today, much as he did in his two blowout victories in Arkansas.
Hard Spun ran very well when second two weeks ago and the son of Danzig has to be respected. There are no knocks against a Pennsylvania-bred who has been worse than third only once in seven races and who has shown the ability to handle any track.
In a career that began last fall, Hard Spun has won at Delaware Park, Philadelphia Park, the Fair Grounds in New Orleans and Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.
Circular Quay was a lastminute addition to the Preakness cast after finishing sixth in Kentucky. He is eligible to improve since he’d been idle for eight weeks before the Derby.
A son of Thunder Gulch, Circular Quay is one of two of trainer Todd Pletcher’s entrants. The other is the Ohio-bred King Of The Roxy. Best around one turn, he was second to Tiago in a weak renewal of the Santa Anita Derby. He couldn’t last nine furlongs in Arcadia, so how is he going to win the 13⁄ 16- mile Preakness against better opposition?
Trainer Wayne Lukas is singing the praises of Flying First Class, but he’s another colt who is unproven around two turns and who was blitzed twice by Curlin at Oaklawn Park.
The best thing C.P. West has going for him is jockey Edgar Prado. Xchanger has the advantage of having won at Pimlico, but he has yet to show he is fast enough to handle any of the top three choices. A win by Mint Slewlep would be one of the biggest surprises in the long history of the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
HIS TIME? Curlin, who didn’t get a good draw in the Derby, did well to finish third. He should be a threat today in the Preakness.