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Street Sense's work not fast but useful
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - There is an old saying among clockers: "It's not how fast a horse works, it's how he works fast" that really matters. Or, in the case of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense here Thursday morning, how he works "not so fast."
With regular rider Calvin Borel keeping him under a tight rein from start to finish, Street Sense worked a half-mile in a relatively pedestrian 51.66 seconds, according to Daily Racing Form. But much to the delight of his trainer, Carl Nafzger, Street Sense covered the second quarter-mile a full second faster than the first, and galloped out a furlong past the wire around the clubhouse turn as fast as he had worked the final eighth of a mile. Street Sense almost imperceptibly shifted into another gear less than a sixteenth mile from the finish line.
"That was just what he needed," said Nafzger. "He started slow and finished strong. He did exactly what we wanted him to do. If everything goes right we'll be racing on Sunday."
Nafzger was referring to Sunday's Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, Street Sense's first start since his second-place finish to Curlin in the Preakness, and his lone prep for the Grade 1 Travers later this meet.
Street Sense is expected to face a small group in the Jim Dandy, including Tiz Wonderful, Sightseeing, C P West, and Cowtown Cat.
Nafzger also sent out the 3-year-old filly Lady Joanne, who, in contrast to Street Sense, worked five furlongs in a crisp 59.30 on Thursday with Borel aboard. Lady Joanne is coming off a second-place finish behind Octave in the Grade 1 Mother Goose.
"We let her roll a little today," said Nafzger. "The main goal for her right now is the Alabama."
Stall wins first try - again!
It's too late to take advantage of this statistic this season, but Saratoga handicappers might want to take notice when trainer Al Stall sends out his first starter at the 2008 Spa meeting.
When Westmoreland slipped through a narrow opening along the hedge and won the opening race of the meet here Wednesday under a nifty ride by jockey Garrett Gomez, it marked the third straight year that Stall greeted his first runner of the meet in the winner's circle. Westmoreland paid $12.
"It's always nice to get a meet like this off to a good start," said Stall who has been a regular at Saratoga for the last 11 years.
Stall has a dozen horses, including four 2-year-olds, bedded down at the Oklahoma training track. Unfortunately his big horse, Ketchikan, is not in the group.
Ketchikan has won 2 of 4 starts but has not run since finishing second behind Circular Quay in the Louisiana Derby.
"I stopped on him after the Louisiana Derby because of a bone bruise, brought him back to training this summer, gave him a couple of works, and then stopped on him again when I wasn't happy with the way he was getting over the ground," Stall said.
"He's never had any specific problems other than the bone bruise. He just seems to be experiencing growing pains. He's currently turned out at Spendthrift. I hope to start him back in training on October 1, then bring him with me to the Fair Grounds next winter."
First Defence to King's Bishop
First Defence, the 2 1/4-length winner of the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 14, will point to the Grade 1 King's Bishop here on Aug. 25, trainer Bobby Frankel said Thursday.
Normally, the 1 1/16-mile Long Branch serves as a prep for the $1 million Haskell Invitational, run at Monmouth on Aug. 5 this year. But Frankel doesn't believe his horse is suited to the 1 1/8 miles of the Haskell at this stage of his career.
"I think a mile and an eighth is too far for him,'' Frankel said. "I thought he got a little weak the last sixteenth [of the Long Branch]."
First Defence, a Juddmonte Farms-owned and -bred son of Unbridled's Song and Honest Lady, has won 3 of 5 starts. He injured his shins when he finished seventh in his debut here last summer. He came off a layoff to win an off-the-turf maiden race at Belmont in October. His only loss since was a second-place finish to Zanjero in a first-level allowance race at Churchill Downs.
Teuflesberg also in King's Bishop
One of First Defence's major rivals in the King's Bishop will be Teuflesberg, who is getting a bit of a freshening after running second in the Carry Back Stakes at Calder earlier this month.
After running 17th in the Kentucky Derby, Teuflesberg came from off the pace to win the Grade 2 Woody Stephens Breeders' Cup at Belmont on Belmont Stakes Day. He came back to run a good second to Black Seventeen in the Carry Back.
"We're trying to give him more time between the last race and the King's Bishop," trainer and part-owner Jamie Sanders said. "We've been pointing to it for a while, doing the best we can. It's tough to maintain him that long.''
Sanders said that Teuflesberg worked four furlongs in 49 seconds at Keeneland on Sunday before shipping here on Monday. Sanders said Teuflesberg was so tough she had to take him back to the track on Tuesday.
"He nearly ran off with me,'' said Sanders, who rides the horse in the morning. "He's fired up; he knows where he's at.''
Last summer, Teuflesberg, as a maiden, nearly upset the Sanford, but was run down by Scat Daddy in the last jump to lose by a neck.
New policy for "spinners"
In an effort to expedite admission into the track, the New York Racing Association has instituted a new policy on giveaway days.
Fans who want to buy more than one admission - commonly called "spinners" - will be directed to a multiple admissions booth located adjacent to the NYRA store on the first floor of the grandstand.
Patrons will be able to purchase up to five extra admission coupons.
Each additional admission coupon will cost $3 and can be redeemed for a giveaway at either of the two redemption centers, located near the Big Red Spring or by the top of the stretch. The policy was instituted for Thursday's Angel Cordero Jr. bobblehead giveaway and will be in place for the five Sunday giveaways at the meet.
- additional reporting by David Grening