08/10/2011 1:22PM

Saratoga: Street Game gets better setup in Hall of Fame

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Street Game won the Grade 3 Hill Prince at Belmont on the lead, but that race had no pace in it.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trip, distance, and weather were three factors that may have compromised Street Game when he finished fifth in last month’s $600,000 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs.

Friday, those same three factors may play in Street Game’s favor when he seeks to rebound in the Grade 2, $150,000 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes for 3-year-olds at Saratoga. A field of seven was entered in the Hall of Fame, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles over the inner turf course.

In the Virginia Derby, Street Game was attempting 1 1/4 miles for the first time. In a race run at steamy Colonial Downs, Street Game found himself dueling on the lead before he opened up a clear advantage turning for home. He ultimately gave way in the final furlong, finishing 7 1/4 lengths by Air Support.

“Between the speed up front in that race and the distance of the race, it finally took its toll on the horse in the stretch,” trainer Phil Serpe said.

Though Street Game won the Grade 3 Hill Prince at Belmont on the lead, that race had no speed in it. Street Game, a New York-bred son of Street Cry owned and bred by Flying Zee Stable, has also won from a stalking position.

“I think he runs his best races sitting right off of it,” Serpe said. “The day he won at Belmont nobody wanted the lead – somebody had to take it.”

Street Game, who will break from post 7, will be reunited with apprentice Ryan Curatolo, who is Flying Zee’s contract rider. Since this is a stakes, Curatolo does not get the five-pound weight allowance.

Big Blue Kitten brings a four-race winning streak into the Hall of Fame, one that began in a $35,000 claiming race at Gulfstream Park in March. He has shown steady improvement for trainer Chad Brown.

“I just slowly raised the level of competition every race for him, and I sat back to see what he would do, and every time he’s responded very well,” said Brown, who won his 10th race of the meet when Silver Timber won Wednesday’s opener. “I’m proud of that horse.”

Though Big Blue Kitten won three straight races on the lead, he did come from just off the pace in his first-level allowance wins at Belmont on July 2. John Velazquez will ride from post 6.

Bill Mott has won this race six times and wheels Rustler Hustler back just 12 days after he finished fourth in the Jersey Derby at Monmouth. In his first start off a seven-month layoff, Rustler Hustler broke slowly and was rank.

Perregaux chased a slow pace in the Jefferson Cup when beaten 5 1-4 lengths by Banned. Trainer Neil Howard thought Perregaux may have regressed following a big race off the layoff when second in a second-level allowance race four weeks earlier.

Completing the field are Benergy, second in the Jefferson Cup and ninth in the Virginia Derby; Crimson China, winner of the Lamplighter at this distance two back; and Humble and Hungry, who was third to Street Game in the Hill Prince,.