05/12/2009 12:00AM

Street Sense's sister faces winners


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Echoes of the 2007 Preakness could very well resonate with horseplayers before the feature race is run Thursday at Churchill Downs. Not only do both jockeys involved in a thrilling stretch drive in the Pimlico classic two years ago have mounts in the $50,200 allowance, but a sibling to Street Sense, who was nailed on the wire by Curlin in that memorable finish, is a main player in a field of nine fillies.

Elusive Sparkle, who was assigned post 8 in the eighth of nine races, is a younger half-sister to 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, being out of the Dixieland Band mare Bedazzle. Like Street Sense, who is by Street Cry, Elusive Sparkle (by Elusive Quality) was bred and owned by Jim Tafel and is trained by Carl Nafzger.

Calvin Borel, the regular rider of Street Sense, will team up Thursday with his older brother, trainer Cecil Borel, when getting a leg up on Dyna's Greeley in the seven-furlong feature. Meanwhile, Robby Albarado, who notched the lone Triple Crown victory of his distinguished career when urging Curlin to that narrow Preakness victory over Street Sense, has the call on Halo's Verse, a Tom Proctor-trained filly who could wind up as the favorite after being a sharp second in her last race at Keeneland, an April 19 allowance run under the same first-level condition that governs the Thursday feature.

With Borel fulfilling family obligations, so to speak, Nafzger has called on Julien Leparoux to ride Elusive Sparkle, a filly who, unlike her brother, has lacked a killer instinct so far in her career. From her first 10 career starts, the filly ran second or third on six occasions, and it was only in her last race, a maiden-special sprint on opening day of the Churchill spring meet, that she was able to follow through for an overdue victory.

Several others in the lone allowance of the Thursday card also rate mentioning. They include Little Miss Julien, winner of a Gulfstream Park maiden-special sprint; Bandora, a maiden-special winner last month at Keeneland; Persistent Penny, whose solid workout pattern makes her a viable threat following a six-month layoff; and Perfect for You, another recent Keeneland winner, albeit in maiden-claiming company.