01/22/2007 12:00AM

Street Sense gets down to business

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - After getting some time off to grow, mature, and recover from a 2-year-old campaign that made him a finalist for the Eclipse Award as top male juvenile, Street Sense is back in serious training and preparing to embark on a Kentucky Derby trail that could begin in a somewhat surprising manner.

Nafzger said the morning after the Breeders' Cup that if all went well Street Sense would have his final Derby prep in the Blue Grass at Keeneland. But Nafzger's choice for Street Sense's first start back might seem a bit unconventional.

"At the moment the race I have in my mind is the Hutcheson," said Nafzger. The Grade 2 Hutcheson, which had traditionally been run earlier in the meet, will be decided at 7 1/2 furlongs on March 3, the same afternoon as the Grade 2, 1 1/8-mile Fountain of Youth.

"I like the Hutcheson, because at that distance he'll be able to settle early, come running late, and have to work enough to get back in the game again," said Nafzger. "And if he runs hard and finishes on the board I'll consider it a successful race."

Nafzger said Street Sense is doing well but that he got a little behind schedule with the colt, a son of Street Cry. Street Sense has not started since his sensational 10-length victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile nearly three months ago.

"He grew on us again when we got down to Florida, so I just eased back on his training a little bit," Nafzger said before flying out to California for Monday evening's Eclipse Award ceremonies. "I had planned to start him back around Christmas week, but he just wasn't happy, so I gave him another 12-14 days. He's really grown. You'll notice the difference when you see him. He hasn't gotten taller or bulkier, he just looks more athletic than when he won the Breeders' Cup."

Nafzger said Street Sense will likely have his first breeze at the end of the month, and that he is sticking to his original plan of giving him only two preps before the Kentucky Derby.

"He ran too hard at 2 to run him more than twice before the Derby," said Nafzger. "Besides, he's plenty experienced. All I have to do is get him fit."

The Hutcheson is certainly not considered as a key Derby prep. The last horse to pull off a Hutcheson-Kentucky Derby double was Swale, who won both races in 1984. The most prominent winner of the race in recent years was Holy Bull, who went off as the Derby favorite only to finish 12th over a sloppy track. Unbridled's Song finished second in the 1996 Hutcheson and was also the beaten favorite later that year in the Derby.

Violette unfazed by loss

Trainer Rick Violette figured to be a little upset after watching his previously undefeated 3-year-old filly Dream Rush finish second as the 3-10 favorite in Saturday's fourth race. Dream Rush got pinned in behind horses and was steadied numerous times under jockey Rafael Bejarano. But after the race, Violette said the only one he had to blame was himself.

"Take Rafael off the hook for this one," explained Violette on Saturday. "I put handcuffs on him because I thought today was the day to school this filly a little and try to take her off the pace. She could have rushed up and made the lead from the inside, but if we committed her to the lead again today it would have made her a confirmed front-runner, and we'd have learned nothing from the race. So we tried something different, and it didn't quite work out. You can't always have your cake and eat it too, and sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward."

Moving forward for Dream Rush could mean a date in the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes on Feb. 10.

Secretsoftheheart proved the beneficiary of Dream Rush's unlucky trip, pulling the upset under Kent Desormeaux.

"She's a game filly," trainer Shawn Musgrave said after the race. "And Kent rode a picture-perfect race. Today was the right day to hook a filly like Dream Rush, since we were turning back off a couple of two-turn races and she was coming in off a little layoff. One thing for certain is that you won't see my filly running past seven furlongs again."

Secretsoftheheart, who was pre-entered but not entered for next Saturday's Sunshine Millions Oaks, is also a candidate for the Old Hat.

Straight Faced getting a break

Straight Faced, one of the top 3-year-olds stabled year-round in south Florida, was conspicuous by his absence when entries were drawn for Saturday's Sunshine Millions races. Straight Faced, a winner of 4 of 6 career starts, including three stakes, would have been among the favorites in the Sunshine Millions Dash.

"He breezed well Sunday morning, but I wasn't happy with the way the foot looked when he came back," said trainer Steve DiMauro. "I just decided if he wasn't 100 percent right it wasn't worth pressing on, so we'll just stop on him now and give him time to get the foot completely right."

Straight Faced, who posted a bullet half-mile work in 47 seconds at Calder on Sunday, has been plagued with foot problems throughout his career. DiMauro said he'll send his horse back to T-Square Farm in Ocala, Fla., where he was bred, to heal up before returning to training this summer.

"Naturally I'm disappointed, but I just want to do what's right for the horse," said DiMauro. "We could have run him, but it would have been pushing him to get him through this race again and that wouldn't have been fair."

Working for the Donn

Strong Contender and Premium Tap, who both are pointing toward the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 3, worked five furlongs here Sunday.

Strong Contender had the bullet drill on the tab, covering the distance in 59.60 seconds, while Premium Tap went an easy five-eighths in 1:01. Magna Graduate, another Donn candidate, also worked five furlongs on Sunday, in 1:01 at Palm Beach Downs.