05/14/2007 12:00AM

Making a case for Preakness field


NEW YORK - Although Street Sense will be a deserving favorite to win the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, it isn't difficult to make a legitimate case in favor of others expected to oppose the Kentucky Derby winner Saturday. Conversely, it is almost as easy to come up with reasons why each of the nine currently being considered for the Preakness, including Street Sense, might lose. Let's take a brief look at each horse:

Street Sense

* How he might win: Given how he ran away from his field in the Kentucky Derby, he might simply be the best horse by far . . . his Derby win, combined with his Breeders' Cup Juvenile romp last fall, were easily the two best performances by any member of his generation .o.o.won't have 18 horses to pass this time, so he is not as dependent on the kind of dream trip he got in Louisville . . . the presence of Xchanger, Flying First Class, and Hard Spun likely ensure he will get an honest pace to rally into . . . given that the Derby was only his third start of the year, he is still fresh.

* How he might lose: No horse can be so lucky and get the kind of dream trip he got in the Derby in two Triple Crown races in a row . . . although the pace should be honest, it might not be so destructive as to cause the Preakness to fall into his lap like the Derby did . . . the Preakness is not run at Churchill Downs, and he has yet to demonstrate he can run the kind of races he ran in the Derby and Breeders' Cup elsewhere . . . trainer Carl Nafzger, who is highly proficient at pointing a horse to one specific goal, had him at his peak in the Derby, so there is nowhere for his form to go but down.

Hard Spun

* How he might win: Considering that he was easily second best in the Derby after setting a strong pace that caused all the others close to him early to stop badly, and that he ran that well off a six-week layoff, he can be a much tougher customer this time . . . not being so fresh now means he is likely to be more amenable to rating, which might be an even more effective style for him .o. . he might sit a perfect trip, allowing Xchanger and Flying First Class to do the dirty work early.

* How he might lose: Running his heart out in the Derby off a six-week layoff could have taken a bigger physical toll than many realize, making it possible that he comes up flat Saturday . . . the only bad race he ever ran was on an Oaklawn Park surface he did not like, so since he has never raced at Pimlico, there is the question of how he will take to that track . . . might prove more bull-headed than thought, and might get involved in a pace battle too early.


* How he might win: Gained desperately needed experience during the course of his third-place finish in the Derby, and could benefit greatly from it . . . In view of the fact that the Derby was only his fourth career start, he has more of a license than others with a higher number of starts to take a big step forward . . . won't be required to rally from 14th and run a race completely alien to him, as was the case at Churchill Downs . . . will enjoy more forward early position in the smaller Preakness field, affording him a much better opportunity to demonstrate the talent he showed in blowout wins in his first three starts.

* How he might lose: Given the questionable quality of opposition he beat in his first three starts, and the fact that he was beaten by eight lengths in the Derby, he just might not be good enough, at least right now.

Circular Quay

* How he might win: Almost can't help but improve off his sixth-place finish in the Derby as that was his first outing since his Louisiana Derby win eight weeks earlier . . . also has a right to move forward when you consider that his severely troubled trip in the Risen Star in his 3-year-old debut was tantamount to a non-start, meaning that his only real effort this year was in the Louisiana Derby . . . his Louisiana Derby was as good in terms of Beyer Speed Figures as any Derby prep this year.

* How he might lose: Has developed a tendency to lose contact with the field early, so he might just be entering the first turn when the rest of the field is going down the backstretch . . . trainer Todd Pletcher is stuck in a bizarre winless streak in Triple Crown races.

King of the Roxy

* How he might win: Should be set for a peak performance third start off a layoff, and did run fast enough winning his first start of the year to be in the ballpark . . . trainer Todd Pletcher's winless string in the Triple Crown races can't last forever.

* How he might lose: With the way he buckled late in the Santa Anita Derby, he doesn't look like a two-turn horse against top company.

C P West

* How he might win: He also is making his third start off a layoff . . . he has, at times, impressed knowledgeable workout watchers as a horse with real talent . . . trainer Nick Zito has pulled a rabbit or two out of his hat in big races before.

* How he might lose: Has only accomplished enough to still be eligible for an entry-level allowance race.

Flying First Class

* How he might win: He would have to improve significantly off his win in the Derby Trial, but a big-figure maiden win in his first start this year says that's not totally impossible . . . trainer D. Wayne Lukas hasn't forgotten how to win a big one.

* How he might lose: If he merely runs back to his Derby Trial win.


* How he might win: His victory in the Federico Tesio says he loves Pimlico, but all the other horses will have to hate Pimlico . . . if all the other speed gets left in the gate, but even then, that's a big stretch.

* How he might lose: If any of the main players runs a representative race.

Mint Slewlep

* How he might win: If they gave him a quarter-mile head start.

* How he might lose: Oh, man, that's just too easy.