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Street Sense works strongly en route to his 2007 debut
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Street Sense has been pretty much out of sight and out of mind since unleashing that devastating stretch run in winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile nearly four months ago. But the way he worked five furlongs at Palm Meadows training center on Tuesday, he should not be forgotten.
On the surface, Street Sense's time of 1:00.21 may not appear all that special. It was the manner in which the son of Street Cry did it that so impressed the handful of onlookers, including his trainer, Carl Nafzger.
With regular rider Calvin Borel aboard for the important work, Street Sense broke off in a little better than a two-minute lick from the six-furlong pole and was still going along at a relatively slow pace for the opening three furlongs with fractions of 12.43 seconds, 25.13, and 37.59. But reminiscent of his performance in the BC Juvenile, once leaving the quarter pole and turning into the stretch, Street Sense clearly had hit another gear, as he came flying through his final quarter in 22.62 while under only mild urging from Borel. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:11.07 (that's an additional eighth in 11.85) and seven-eighths to the middle of the turn in 1:25.45.
"He's been building up to this all winter, and this is why we brought Calvin down here this morning," said Nafzger. "I wanted him to finish up strong and that's exactly what he did. This work really moved us up a long way."
Nafzger once again ruled out Saturday's 7o1/2-furlong Hutcheson for Street Sense's 3-year-old debut. He cited the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby on March 17 as the most likely of several options, which also include the Rushaway at Turfway Park the following week or a possible allowance race at Gulfstream in mid-March. Despite winning the Breeders' Cup, Street Sense remains eligible for a second-level allowance race.
"If I had a race into him already I could run him Saturday off this work," said Nafzger. "At the moment the timing is good for the Tampa Bay Derby. That gives us almost four weeks to adjust if necessary. Right now I'm not as interested in where he finishes in his first start back as how he finishes. Although when we get to the Blue Grass he's got to be there even if he doesn't win.
"There's a point when prepping for the Derby that you can't be finishing seventh or eighth. Not without a major excuse."
Stormello to make Fountain of Youth trip
Another top 3-year-old prospect who has yet to start this season will get that opportunity on Saturday because trainer Bill Currin was finally able to line up flight arrangements for Stormello in time to run in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park. Stormello, who has been idle since finishing a tiring fifth behind Street Sense in the BC Juvenile, will depart California on Wednesday morning on a Federal Express flight scheduled to arrive in south Florida late that afternoon.
Stormello, who will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux in the 1 1/18-mile Fountain of Youth, is one of two additions to the race. The other is Meritocracy, who trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed will start along with stablemate Scat Daddy. They join a field that is also expected to include heavy favorite Nobiz Like Shobiz, Drums of Thunder, Adore the Gold, Johannesburg Star, and possibly Delightful Kiss and Hal's My Hope.
Add Bold Start to Hutcheson field
The field for Saturday's Hutcheson Stakes also grew this week when trainer Ken McPeek announced his intentions to run Bold Start in the Grade 2 dash for 3-year-olds. He'll join a field that likely will include Forefathers, Storm in May, Spin Master, and the Pletcher-trained duo of King of the Roxy and Out of Gwedda. Bold Start defeated Meritocracy in an allowance race earlier in the meet but was not a serious factor behind Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes. Bold Start will race in blinkers for the first time in the Hutcheson.
"I thought about running him in the Fountain of Youth, but the Hutcheson should be a lot easier," said McPeek. "He didn't really have any excuse in the Holy Bull, other than the fact that sometimes he just doesn't run well when things don't go his way. He worked super in blinkers since his last race, and I think they'll help him relax better."
McPeek also said his other top 3-year-old prospect, Birdbirdistheword, is training extremely well and will make his 2007 debut on March 10 in the Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds.
Summer Book tries tougher company
Following a solid second-place finish in the restricted Sunshine Millions Classic, Summer Book has earned a return to graded stakes company and will take on Corinthian in Saturday's Grade 2, $350,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap.
A Florida-bred son of Notebook, Summer Book was beaten just three-quarters of a length by McCann's Mojave in the Sunshine Millions, which was Summer Book's first start for trainer Frank Brothers.
"I had him about a month before the race," said Brothers, who trains the horse for owner Greg Besinger. "I felt like the horse had a good month before the race. I thought we possibly helped him a little bit, and I thought with a little luck we could get a piece of the pie. And he obviously did, he got a big piece of the pie."
Summer Book has continued to train well for Brothers. On Feb. 19, Summer Book worked five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.40. He came back Monday with a much slower move in 1:04.
"I didn't want to do too much this close to the race," Brothers said. "He's fine. This will be as tough a group of horses as he's run against. It'll be a question if he'll be good enough to compete with them. But I guess the only way to find out is to try."
Mark Guidry will ride Summer Book in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. He was assigned 114 pounds, three less than Corinthian. Others expected to run are A.P. Arrow (116), Hesanoldsalt (116), and Rehoboth (114).
Minister's Bid nearly race-ready again
After retiring Strong Contender due to injury earlier this year, trainer John Ward and his wife, Donna, now hope that Minister's Bid or Dr. Pleasure can make an impact in the handicap division.
Minister's Bid, the Jim Dandy runner-up who has not run since finishing last behind Bernardini in the Travers last summer, is nearing his return to the races. On Monday, he breezed five furlongs in 1:01, his seventh breeze since arriving in south Florida.
Donna Ward said that Minister's Bid was body sore after hitting the gate in the Travers and simply was given some time off. Minister's Bid was a bit headstrong in the gate for several of his races last year.
"He's more mature this year - I feel better about him," said Ward, who indicated Minister's Bid may run here or at Keeneland.
Meanwhile, Dr. Pleasure, who finished third in the Travers, has just recently resumed training after recovering from a hairline fracture in a hind ankle last fall. The injury forced Dr. Pleasure to miss the Indiana Derby.
Ward said Dr. Pleasure "is close to breezing."
Showing Up to crank it up for a new season
Trainer Barclay Tagg said Showing Up, the multiple Grade 1-winning turf horse, will likely begin breezing next week as he embarks on his 4-year-old campaign.
Tagg said the first two objectives for Showing Up this year are the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Derby Day (May 5) and the Manhattan at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day (June 9).
- additional reporting by David Grening and Jay Privman