09/06/2007 11:00PM

Street Sense on the verge of serious work

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Street Sense has quickly readjusted to familiar surroundings in Barn 27 at Churchill Downs and could have his first workout since his Travers Stakes victory early next week if he continues to flourish.

Street Sense, who arrived early Monday from Saratoga, was out early Friday for a routine 1 1/2-mile gallop under exercise rider Mark Cutler, who said the colt "couldn't be doing better. He's doing super."

With Nafzger tending to his other string at the Skylight training center east of Louisville, assistant Ian Wilkes oversaw the routine training move by Street Sense.

"He came back in great shape," said Wilkes. "He's going to walk [Saturday], then go back to the track like normal Sunday. Obviously, Carl will make the call, but I believe it's possible he could work Tuesday if he keeps doing as well as he is."

Nafzger has not yet committed to a final Breeders' Cup Classic prep race for Street Sense, but has narrowed the list to the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park or Hawthorne Gold Cup on Sept. 29, or the Sept. 30 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.

Turfway officials announced this week that a $150,000 bonus will be paid to the winning owner of the Kentucky Cup Classic if the horse is a Grade 1 winner in 2006 or 2007. The regular purse for the KC Classic is $350,000, which includes $150,000 restricted to horses eligible to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.

Street Sense, the Kentucky Derby winner, is a leading contender for Horse of the Year after capturing the Aug. 25 Travers in his last start.

Lopez returns to riding

Jockey James Lopez is back in the swing after missing some 2 1/2 years due to injury and family considerations.

"After I broke my collarbone in March 2005, I moved to Kansas and ended up getting into private business renovating floors," said Lopez, who won with his first return mount as the Ellis Park meet wound down. "I missed the racetrack too much, so here I am."

Lopez, 29, has won with 3 of his first 24 mounts since returning. His book is being handled by Steve Elzey.

Another veteran riding regularly at Turfway is Larry Sterling Jr., a California native who had been a mainstay on the Chicago circuit for the last decade or so.

"I'll be here through Keeneland and Churchill, too," said Sterling.

Hernandez only slightly injured

Brian Hernandez Jr. escaped serious injury Thursday night at Turfway when his mount in the third race, Beautiful You, was forced into clipping heels when badly crowded going into the clubhouse turn, throwing Hernandez.

Hernandez, who had a highly productive Ellis meet with 41 wins, needed several stitches in his chin but was expected back in action Friday night.

Unstoppable Force, ridden by Dean Sarvis, was disqualified from third to last for his role in the incident.

Several options for High Heels

Gary Hartlage said stable star High Heels was scheduled to work Saturday as the veteran trainer tries to decide where to run the 3-year-old filly next.

"I'm between three races," he said, naming the Sept. 22 Fitz Dixon Cotillion at Philadelphia Park, the Oct. 5 Indiana BC Oaks at Hoosier Park, and the Oct. 7 Spinster at Keeneland.

The Saturday work was to be the first for High Heels since she came flying to finish second to Pleasant Hill in the Aug. 18 Gardenia at Ellis.

Leparoux has out-of-town plans

Julien Leparoux will miss several upcoming weekend programs, according to agent Steve Bass, including next Saturday, when he rides at Presque Isle Downs.

Leparoux figures to be the leading rider at the 22-day fall meet here, but only if he remains in town to compete regularly enough. Leparoux frequently rides elsewhere for Patrick Biancone and other clients.

Sprint feature wide open

The Sunday feature at Turfway is a $40,000 optional claimer at six furlongs for fillies and mares. Leparoux has the call on Touch Me Once, who was good enough to knock out her first allowance condition last year at Saratoga but has since gone off form for trainer Wally Dollase.

Assuming Touch Me Once still can't find her best stride, the top contenders in the race, which is open to second-level allowance runners, look like Initforthekandy, Sister Bay, Spanish Ghost, and Primetime Princess.

Kentucky Downs opens Saturday

Kentucky Downs, the turf-only track in Franklin, Ky., kicks off its six-day meet next Saturday with the first of two blended cards with Turfway; the other comes the following Saturday, Sept. 22, when the Kentucky Cup turf series is held at Kentucky Downs. The other Kentucky Downs dates are Sept. 17, 18, 24, and 25.

The feature next Saturday at Turfway is the $75,000 Marfa Stakes, a 6 1/2-furlong race for older horses.

* Trainer David Vance is closing in on an impressive career milestone: the 3,000-win mark. Into Friday, Vance had registered 2,990 wins.