05/02/2007 11:00PM

Visually, Street Sense stands out


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - All the final preparations are over. Some works were better than others and one or two were quite unexpected, but all were designed with the same goal in mind - to get each of the 20 horses in the field to peak on Saturday for the 133rd running of the Kentucky Derby.

Assessing all that took place in the final two weeks leading up to the main event has been more difficult than usual this year, due mainly to the increasingly popularly of Keeneland's Polytrack surface, where more than half the field trained, at least for part of the time. The weather had been unseasonably warm and mostly dry for much of the past two weeks before steady showers left the Churchill Downs strip sloppy for training hours on Thursday.

Here are my impressions on how all 20 starters are doing.

Any Given Saturday: Couldn't look better. He has been galloping in draw reins to contain some of his enthusiasm in the morning. His work two back was a little disappointing when he was under late urging and yet barely able to outfinish a stablemate who finished third in a first-level allowance race at Keeneland one week later. Any Given Saturday, however, did go five-eighths in 58 seconds and change with a final quarter in 23. He washed out and was agitated schooling in paddock on Wednesday. Might prove the Bluegrass Cat of this year's field if he can show a little more composure on Derby Day.

Bwana Bull: Turned in a useful albeit not spectacular work here Monday while under some mild encouragement from jockey Javier Castellano. He hasn't had a bad week but would have needed to see more to consider him a major


Circular Quay: Appears to be in peak form. Has been asked to do a little more than his Derby mates coming off an eight-week hiatus, and he has responded well, especially in his final work at Keeneland, where he went stride for stride with Oaks monster Rags to Riches while under a strong hold from Hall of Famer Angel Cordero Jr. Looked like a very happy horse galloping at Churchill this week.

Cowtown Cat: Another member of Team Pletcher who has stood out, first at Keeneland and then Churchill Downs. His final work over the Polytrack was extremely impressive, especially the manner in which he continued on beyond the wire during an eye-catching gallop-out. Moving forward at the right time.

Curlin: Anybody looking to knock the morning line favorite from a physical standpoint will be disappointed as he has done nothing wrong and looks a picture of health coming into the race. Handled his easy half-mile maintenance drill perfectly on Monday. Taking a big step up in competition.

Dominican: Doing extremely well, although hard to get past the notion his high-striding action suggests he's best on either turf or the Polytrack. Worked fast on Sunday but didn't change leads until late stretch and didn't appear to be striding out very fluidly at the end.

Great Hunter: One of the lookers in this field. Love the image he projects when galloping, neck bowed, in the morning and he has really picked up his pace since switching over from Keeneland, where his final work was good but not great. Has done well enough to be considered a player but, ugh, that post position.

Hard Spun: He didn't travel all that well galloping on the Polytrack, albeit under 180-pound exercise rider-trainer Larry Jones. He obviously likes it better at Churchill the way he spun heads with a 57 and change workout on Monday. During that work he obliterated a Grade 1-winning stablemate, blazing through very fast early fractions before predictably shortening stride under pressure in the final furlong and gallop-out. Not really what you want to see five days before running a grueling 1 1/4-mile race.

Imawildandcrazyguy: Has had a decent week, and liked that two- minute lick/three-furlong breeze final prep over the track, during which he did finish with good energy. A notch below these class-wise, but a long-winded type who could benefit from a very fast pace.

Liquidity: Didn't like his final major drill at Keeneland, where he worked very fast but while under extreme pressure. Tired noticeably during the latter stages of that work, which was accomplished without the blinkers he had worn in his previous starts. Has looked much better since moving over to Churchill Downs, where he has strung together several consecutive strong morning gallops.

Nobiz Like Shobiz: Didn't get to see him for the first time until Thursday, when he merely walked and jogged with a pony. But colleague David Grening reports that he appeared to improve and gain focus in the days leading up to a solid five-furlong work at Belmont last Sunday. Must overcome the idiosyncrasies he has displayed in many of his previous races.

Sam P.: The least respected of Pletcher's Derby quintet, although he has done little wrong while training exclusively at Churchill Downs. A grinding type of runner who might just sneak in for a share with a little forward move off his last pair.

Scat Daddy: Couldn't have had a better two weeks coming up to this race despite the fact he continues to train in bar shoes. Loved each of his last two works over the Polytrack at Keeneland, and following an easy morning here Wednesday morning was full of himself galloping over the wet track on Thursday.

Sedgefield: Was hard-pressed to keep up late with stablemate Bacetto, a turf specialist who has only cleared his first allowance condition, while under some urging in his final local prep. May need to get back on grass to be at his very best.

Stormello: Did not look comfortable over the track in his first two days after shipping here from Hollywood Park following a work in which he was under some pressure to come home a final quarter in just 24.80. Did look a bit better over the wet strip on Thursday.

Storm in May: Like stablemate Imawildandcrazyguy, he blew out nicely after having already gone five furlongs at a two-minute clip in his one serious local drill, but will have to really step up his game to catch lightning in a bottle on Saturday.

Street Sense: The Barbaro of this year's Derby field as far as his morning work has gone, especially during a pair of works which couldn't have been more perfect. Finished up in 22 and change in both drills without need of urging and was equally impressive in his gallop-outs, during which he just kept going and going while clinging tight to the inside fence. Loves this track. The one to beat.

Teuflesberg: An imposing-looking specimen who has flourished both here and at Keeneland despite a rigorous racing itinerary. Was tugging owner-trainer Jamie Sanders out of the saddle galloping over the wet track on Thursday, although he still appears a notch below the best in this group.

Tiago: Was hoping to see more from Giacomo's baby brother since he is an improving, stretch-running sort who could be up late for a share at a big price. But he just hasn't seemed comfortable over the local surface since shipping in off a fast work at Hollywood Park, where he was lugging in very badly at the end.

Zanjero: Looks great and has really flourished here recently. Conveys the impression he's coming up to a top effort, although he will have to move well forward to catch up to the better ones in this group.