Kentucky Derby: Stronger than last year
by Geir Stabell (email@example.com) / Globeform (http://www.globeform.com)
Last update: 2007-05-07 07:01:19 (First published: 2007-04-23 08:07:07 )
Churchill Downs: The lineup for the 133rd Kentucky Derby (G1) is now ready, and this looks a great deal stronger than last year. Barbaro was outstanding, but this Derby field has more strength in depth than the one he outclassed twelve months ago.
Street Sense, Globeform Champion Juvenile in 2006, takes the highest rating into the contest, but how does his best form compare to rivals like Curlin, who is improving fast, Nobiz Like Showbiz, who is also on the right track, and Circular Quay, who came back to form in the Louisiana Derby (G2)?
Others worth to considering are Scat Daddy, a strong Florida Derby (G1) winner, the Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Tiago, the more speedy Hard Spun and the talented Any Given Saturday. Which, of course this is not.
KENTUCKY DERBY (G1)
Churchill Downs 5 May 2007 – 1 ¼ miles dirt
Horses presented with best Globeform, sire and rider
A ‘+’ after rating indicates improvement expected
130+ / STREET SENSE (Street Cry) / C Borel
124+ / CURLIN (Smart Strike) GF / R Albarado
117+ / NOBIZ LIKE SHOBIZ (Albert the Great) / C Velasquez
117+ / HARD SPUN (Danzig) / M Pino
116+ / CIRCULAR QUAY (Thunder Gulch) / J Velazquez
115+ / ANY GIVEN SATURDAY (Distorted Humor) GF ?+ 115+ 109+ / G Gomez
115 / STORMELLO (Stormy Atlantic) / K Desormeaux
114+ / SCAT DADDY (Johannesburg) / E Prado
114+ / GREAT HUNTER (Aptitude) / C Nakatani
113+ / TIAGO (Pleasant Tap) / M Smith
111+ / DOMINICAN (El Corredor) / R Bejarano
110+ / COWTOWN CAT (Distorted Humor) / F Jara
110 / ZANJERO (Cherokee Run) / S Bridgemohan
110 / LIQUIDITY (Tiznow) / D Flores
110 / TEUFLESBERG (Johannesburg) / S Elliott
109 / SEDGEFIELD (Smart Strike) / J Leparoux
107 / STORM IN MAY (Tiger Ridge) / J Leyva
106+ / SAM P (Cat Thief) / R Dominguez
104 / BWANA BULL (Holy Bull) / J Castellano
102 / IMAWILDANDCRAZYGUY (Wild Event) / M Guidry
STREET SENSE is our selection. He drew perfectly in post seven, he is the best horse in the race, and he has Churchill experience. His prep runs have been perfect too and, unless Curlin manages to take that big step up (not at all unlikely), Street Sense will become the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile / Kentucky Derby double winner.
Last year's champion juvenile has had two prep races leading up to a crack at the Kentucky Derby. That was always the plan for Street Sense, who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) by 10 lengths at Churchill Downs last autumn. He outclassed Circular Quay, with several of his Derby rivals further adrift. It all went to plan that day.
Was it also the plan to win one prep by a nose, in course record time, and lose the next by a nose, in a race run so slowly the finish looked more like a quarter horse event?
Probably not, but combine those two experiences, and you have a horse that's well prepared for anything that might happen on the big day. He made a fantastic move on the turn in the Tampa Bay Derby, when he appeared to be pulled forward by magnetism. It reminded us of Arazi in the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and Street Sense had made a similar move in the BC Juvenile. Make no mistake, this colt is for real. He fought off Any Given Saturday in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3), beating him by a nose while conceding 2lbs. Any Given Saturday had fitness advantage, and he is unlikely to get this close on Saturday – when the added distance will be very much in Street Sense’s favor.
Carl Nafzger had always planned to use the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) as the final prep, and – though it was a falsely run trial – it was an good prep for Street Sense. This Blue Grass was run at a pedestrian pace, as they clocked ridiculously slow fractions. Take a look at this comparison with last year’s Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (G1):
Blue Grass: 26.1 – 51.4 – 1:16.6
Lane’s End: 23.2 – 46.6 – 1:11.8
Street Sense, even money favorite in the Blue Grass, was third in last year’s Lane’s End Futurity, 1 ¾ lengths behind Great Hunter. After that he turned the form around in great style at the Breeders’ Cup, and both colts had won well on their seasonal debut this year. As the Blue Grass was run some 25 lengths slower than the Lane’s End, it became a virtual sprint and, not just Street Sense but also Great Hunter, ran well under the circumstances. Great Hunter was hampered close home, and Street Sense was forced to switch in midstretch. He lost, but he has no idea he lost, as he looked to be in front both just before and just after the finishing line.
Dominican, who has now won all his three starts on artifical surfaces, had a better burst of speed and got lucky on the day. Very lucky. Not that he isn’t a smart runner – his easy win at Turfway last month showed that he is pretty good – but it is unlikely that he would have won in a strongly run race.
If Calvin Borel had kicked on when they rounded the turn, Street Sense probably would have won, but this was not his priority – obviously, Borel would not want to ride this race totally differently to the one coming up on May 5. Street Sense produced Globeform 130 when beating Circular Quay by 10 lengths at the Breeders’ Cup. That is an incredible rating, the highest given to any juvenile since Arazi. And the form of the race has worked out so well, it is impossible to go against Street Sense in the 133rd Kentucky Derby. Curlin earned GF 124+ in the Arkansas Derby (G2) and he is a big danger – but he is short on experience. Another point: beating Circular Quay by 10 lengths is, and will always be, better than beating Storm in May by nearly eleven.
It has to be Street Sense over Curlin, at least for now. For a full analysis to his career, plus pedigree and pedigree notes, please download his Globeform Annual essay via the link below.
STREET SENSE (Street Cry) GF07s
CURLIN, the runaway Arkansas Derby (G2) winner is a serious, serious racehorse – but will he be tough enough, end experienced enough? Maybe not, but even if he is beaten in the Kentucky Derby, Curlin is certainly one of the stars of 2007. After all, by May 1, he stands with the best performance of the year among the 3-year-olds, and that after just three runs! He drew post two, and initially thet sounds like big disadvantage but closer analyses of the post positions show that he is surrounded by, well, shall we say, not particularly fast horses. They are decent runners, otherwise they would not be here but Sedgefield (1), Zanjero (3), Storm in May (4) and Imawildandcrazyguy (5) are not quick starters. This means that Curlin should get a clean run early on, and that is so important. He has a big chance, no doubt about that.
The Smart Strike colt had taken a big step up on his second start, when graduating from a breathtaking debut at Gulfstream Park to win the Rebel Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn on March 17, and he just keeps on surpising. It is not surprising that a talented colt like this chestnut keeps on winning – but, given his limited experience – it is surprising how he does it. One may think that this was soft oppsition and yes, as the early leader Deadly Dealer failed to stay, perhaps it was. It was still a test for Curlin, however, and he scored ten points at every junction.
He settled beautifully a couple of lengths behind Deadly Dealer, he was still perfectly balanced mentally when the outsider Slew by Slew moved past him as they were approaching the final turn, he accelerated in the style of a seasoned pro when Albarado asked him to make a move halfway through that turn, and he ran on like a horse that should stay 1 ¼ miles. As soon as he straightened for home, the race was all but over. Curlin won by 10 ½ lengths with a bit in hand, though Albarado did keep him up to his task.
It was a great, great learning experience. Easing him would have been some mistake. It would hardly do, would it, if Curlin pulled himself up inside the last sixteenth at Churchill Downs, and came under attack from strong closers like Street Sense and Circular Quay. Better to make it clear to him ’asap’ what racing is all about, and where the winning post is. He seems to have been a very quick learner and, if he can handle the Derby day atmosphere, he will not be easy to beat.
CIRCULAR QUAY appears to be Todd Pletcher’s best – and he makes a lot of appeal. Forget about the long layoff. This colt has plenty of experience, and he looks set to run a big race. His prep win in the Louisiana Derby (G2) was very solid, he may well improve again, and he has a running style that makes his outside post ideal. Circular Quay will probably be dropped in behind the field, and try to come with a late run through the final quarter mile. Given a clean run, he will beat most, and he could even pull it off, and beat them all.
He impressed as he came from last to first at the Fair Grounds in March, to gain what looked quite an easy 2 ¼-length win over the local hope Ketchikan - who had set solid fractions (though racing well in hand) leading Liquidity, who faded tamely and ran well below his true form. Circular Quay was nearly back to his best – perhaps we should say he was back to his best, and there seems to be more to come from the Thunder Gulch colt. He won with a bit in hand and is a serious contender for the Kentucky Derby.
For a full analysis to his career, plus pedigree and pedigree notes, please download his Globeform Annual essay via the link below.
CIRCULAR QUAY (Thunder Gulch) GF07s
NOBIZ LIKE SHOBIZ got his act together in the Wood Memorial (G1), where he beat Sightseeing and Any Given Saturday.
Racing in blinkers for the first time, last year’s Remsen Stakes (G2) winner went off odds-on favorite, in what looked a clear match race on paper. His only rival on form was Any Given Saturday, who had run such a good race against Street Sense in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) – where, incidentally, he was the odds-on choice in the betting.
Nobiz Like Shobiz certainly benefited from the use of blinkers, and ran a much more mature race than in his two starts at Gulfstream Park. He edged away from Any Given Saturday halfway down the stretch, always holding the upper hand and looking the stronger, and ran on to hold a late charge by Sightseeing. The difference was just half a length at the wire, and the runner-up was staying on really well.
Barclay Tagg’s colt is ready for a big run now, and he will be among the favorites Saturday. The Wood win was his career best effort. Two starts back, he was third, 1 ½ lengths behind Scat Daddy, who gave the form a boost when winning the Florida Derby (G1). On his seasonal debut, Nobiz Like Shobiz beat Drums of Thunder readily in the one-mile Holy Bull (G3). He was better in the Wood, but many would argue that he was visually more impressive in last year’s Remsen Stakes (G2). That was also over 9 furlongs, and he burst away at the top of the lane to beat Zanjero by 6 ½ lengths. Can he win the big one? Not impossible but, though blinkers helped him in the finish at Aqueduct, he was also racing quite keenly early on, and that would not be good at Churchill. One gets the feeling that Scat Daddy has just as good a chance.
SCAT DADDY has been a bit of a ‘pleasant surprise’ this season, after seeming quite exposed after his juvenile campaign. He completed the Fountain of Youth (G2) and Florida Derby (G1) double, winning both races is the style of a thoroughly game and determined colt. His post position (14) is not perfect but it is not ‘impossible’ either – as he is an experience runner.
Download his essay from the Globeform Annual via the link below.
SCAT DADDY (Johannesburg) GF07s
ANY GIVEN SATURDAY, GREAT HUNTER, HARD SPUN and TIAGO are all capable of finishing in the top four, though Great Hunter – probably the best of the four – has a very difficult post position. Any Given Saturday is hard to assess. Did he lose the Wood through lack of stamina? He also has a wide post to overcome. Hard Spun well drawn and he is better than most people seem to realise, but ulikely to stay the distance. Tiago is guaranteed to stay, and he is also the most likely improver. This half-brother to Giacomo must be included in Tri & Super plans.
Get Analyses & Globeform ratings on all the preps in our comprehensive Kentucky Prep Race Analyses.
A: 7 STREET SENSE
B: 2 CURLIN
C: 16 CIRCULAR QUAY
D: 8 – 12 – 14 – 15 – 18 - 20
BASED ON A FAST TRACK / MAY CHANGE IF RAIN
WIN: 7 Street Sense
EXACTA BOX: 2 and 7
A: 7 with 2 with 12, 14, 16
B: 7 with 12, 14, 16 with 2
C: 7 with 12, 14, 16 with 12, 14, 16
A: 2, 7 with 2, 7 with 12, 14, 16 with 12, 14, 16
B: 2, 7 with 12, 14, 16 with 2, 7 with 12, 14, 16
C: 2, 7 with 12, 14, 16, with 12, 14, 16 with 2, 7
D: 2, 7 with 2, 7 with 12, 14, 16 with 6, 8, 15, 17, 19, 20
D: 2, 7 with 12, 14, 16 with 2, 7 with 6, 8, 15, 17, 19, 20
E: 2, 7 with 2, 7 with 6, 8, 15, 17, 19, 20 with 12, 14, 16
E: 2, 7 with 12, 14, 16 with 6, 8, 15, 17, 19, 20 with 2, 7
RACE 9: DANZON
RACE 10: CURLIN AND STREET SENSE
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