05/01/2007 11:00PM

Curlin gets 2, Street Sense 7

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Lauren J. Pomeroy/Horsephotos
Curlin, the Arkansas Derby winner, got post 2, with Street Sense, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner and last year's champion 2-year-old male, in post 7.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Curlin and Street Sense, considered the two leading contenders for Saturday's Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, drew spots in the inside half of the field when posts were selected Wednesday evening for the 133rd Derby.

Curlin, the Arkansas Derby winner, got post 2, with Street Sense, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner and last year's champion 2-year-old male, in post 7.

A full field of 20 drew for posts after 22 were entered for the race Wednesday morning. Both Reporting for Duty and Delightful Kiss were excluded because of insufficient , the criteria when more than the maximum 20 horses are entered in the Derby. There is no also-eligible list for the Derby.

If all 20 start, the gross purse will be $2,210,000, with $1,450,000 to the winner.

Mike Battaglia, the linemaker at Churchill Downs, installed Curlin as the 7-2 favorite, with Street Sense next at 4-1. Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form's national handicapper, tabbed Street Sense as the 9-2 favorite, with Curlin next at 5-1. Watchmaker has three horses - Circular Quay, Nobiz Like Shobiz, and Scat Daddy - at 8-1. The betting favorite has won the race twice - Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000, Smarty Jones in 2004 - in the last seven years.

The draw for the Derby is a two-step process. In the morning, a random draw was held that determined the order in which posts would be selected. Then, later Wednesday on national television, posts were chosen by a representative of each horse.

Storm in May, a longshot and one of two Derby entrants trained by Bill Kaplan, had the first pick. His co-owner, Teresa Palmer, took post 4.

Street Sense had the sixth pick. Carl Nafzger, his trainer, chose post 7. It was at this track last fall that Street Sense won the Juvenile. If he wins the Derby, he will be the first winner of the Juvenile to capture the Derby, and the first 2-year-old champ to take the Derby since Spectacular Bid in 1979.

Curlin, unbeaten in three starts, had the 16th pick. Posts available for Curlin were 1, 2, 18, 19, and 20. Curlin wound up next to his Steve Asmussen-trained stablemate Zanjero, who is in post 3.

"Both of these horses are extremely manageable," Asmussen said.

Two well-regarded colts, Any Given Saturday and Great Hunter, both had late picks. Any Given Saturday landed post 18 with the 18th pick, while Great Hunter, who had the 19th pick, got post 20.

Doug O'Neill, who trains Great Hunter, said he and owner Paul Reddam took post 20 because he will be the "last one in the gate."

"Obviously we didn't have much choice," O'Neill said.

All that was left for Dominican, who had the final pick, was post 19.

Among other horses who figure to get significant support, Hard Spun got post 8 with the third pick, Scat Daddy got post 14 with the eighth pick, Circular Quay got post 16 with the 12th pick, and Nobiz Like Shobiz - whose nameplate at the draw was misspelled "Showbiz" - got post 12 on the 14th. Barclay Tagg, the trainer of Nobiz Like Shobiz, made a mad dash from a late-arriving flight to get to the downtown draw only three picks before he was up.

There is some strategy when selecting posts. The horses are double-loaded for the Derby meaning posts 1 and 11 are loaded first, posts 10 and 20 last. Jamie Sanders, the trainer and co-owner of Teuflesberg, selected post 10 with the second pick to minimize the time Teuflesberg, a notoriously bad gate horse, spends in the gate.

Scat Daddy's selection of post 14 by co-owner James Scatuorchio gave him the final spot in the main starting gate. There is a significant gap between post 14 and post 15, the first of six posts in the auxiliary gate. Both posts afford a horse a better chance to recover from tardy start than in any other side-by-side situation. Tiago ended up in post 15 with the 11th pick.

"Fifteen you get to go in the gate a little later, and you have a little space," said Tiago's trainer, John Shirreffs.

Both Liquidity and Sam P. are removing blinkers for the Derby. There are no Lasix changes.

The Derby could very well be run on an off track. Thunderstorms were forecast for the area the rest of the week, ranging from an 80-percent chance Wednesday night to a 60-percent chance Friday, the day of the Kentucky Oaks, and a 30-percent chance on Saturday. The high temperature Saturday is forecast to be a balmy 79 degrees.

Some rain began to fall Wednesday afternoon as trainer Todd Pletcher brought his five Derby runners - Any Given Saturday, Circular Quay, Cowtown Cat, Sam P., and Scat Daddy - to the paddock during the fifth race for a schooling session. Scat Daddy was wearing bar shoes, as he did when he worked on Sunday at Keeneland, but Pletcher said he would not race in them on Saturday. Any Given Saturday was difficult to handle when he first arrived in the paddock. He balked at remaining in a saddling stall, but he eventually settled down, though he got a bit sweaty.

Four of Pletcher's horses - all but Sam P. - had been training at Keeneland through Tuesday and went to the track at Churchill Downs for the first time this week early Wednesday morning.

The last horse to arrive on the grounds was Nobiz Like Shobiz, the Wood Memorial winner, who was flown from New York on Wednesday afternoon.

- additional reporting by David Grening