Time to Deliver

Posted: May 05, 2007

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It's possible that in another day, Edgar Prado won't be identified simply as Barbaro's jockey.

"Every time you come to the Derby, it's a new hope and a dream," Prado said yesterday on his way to the jockeys' room at Churchill Downs after a race. "You hope that on Sunday, you awaken and find out you have something special."

Today's 133d Kentucky Derby features two horses, Hard Spun and Great Hunter, who were born on Chester County farms. The winningest trainer in the game has five horses trying to get him his first Derby triumph. The trainer of Funny Cide has a horse fully capable of winning. And Giacomo's trainer is back with another closer.

After a day of Derby betting, the favorite is Street Sense, the winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile by a record 10 lengths, trying to become the first winner of that race to win this one, and trying to do it despite just two races this year.

The other popular choice, Arkansas Derby winner Curlin, is trying to win the Derby in just his fourth career start, after winning his first three by a total of 281/2 lengths.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has taken 14 horses to the Derby without winning it, has his best chance yet, with five starters, led by talented closer Circular Quay and Prado's mount, Florida Derby winner Scat Daddy.

Another real contender, Nobiz Like Shobiz, is trained by Barclay Tagg, who grew up in Abington and found fame - whether he wanted it or not - when Funny Cide won the Derby and Preakness in 2003.

Not a bad indicator of betting interest is where people went with Oaks/Derby Double bets yesterday, which obviously had to be in before the Oaks was run yesterday. Street Sense was the clear favorite of bettors who also went for eventual Oaks winner Rags to Riches. The rest of the top 10 Derby betting choices were, in order: Curlin, Circular Quay, Nobiz Like Shobiz, Scat Daddy, Hard Spun, Any Given Saturday, Tiago, Cowtown Cat and Great Hunter.

Hard Spun, stabled regularly at Delaware Park, has an owner from Wilmington, Rick Porter, and was born on the Main Line, at Betty Moran's Brushwood Stable in Malvern. Moran bred him under a foal-sharing arrangement with her son, Michael, from Unionville, who had owned and trained Hard Spun's mother, Turkish Tryst.

"She was like the goose that laid the golden egg for me," Moran said back in February, talking about Turkish Tryst's breeding success.

Another Unionville resident, 83-year-old Phil Fanning, is the breeder of Great Hunter, conditioned by top California trainer Doug O'Neill. Ironically, Great Hunter's dam, Zenith, had been owned in his racing days by Porter, Hard Spun's owner.

Both horses have ties to Smarty Jones trainer John Servis, who trained Zenith and helped pick out Hard Spun before Porter and Servis split up their partnership last year.

There are a lot of what-ifs in Hard Spun's story.

Betty Moran said that having a Derby horse from her breeding shed is good for business, although if she had known this one's future, she certainly would have kept it instead of selling it privately to Porter for $400,000.

"He would have either gone to Christophe Clement or Michael Matz or Billy Mott," Betty Moran said about what would have happened if she had held on to the horse, mentioning three trainers she regularly uses. "If he'd have gone to Christophe Clement, he'd be running on the grass."

Porter said that if he thought he owned a future Derby horse, he probably wouldn't have sent him to trainer Larry "Cowboy" Jones, who had just begun working with a couple of Porter's fillies.

"He was never considered one of our 'A' horses," said Porter, who had a dozen 2-year-olds last year, hoping to get one to the Triple Crown trail. "He was a late developer. To tell you the truth, I'd always thought this horse might have been a mistake."

Obviously, Porter likes how it all has turned out. Jones is a first-time Derby trainer - trying to become the fifth straight first-timer to win the Derby - and the first-time Derby jockey on Hard Spun is Mario Pino, the second-winningest active jockey in the sport, who spent his teenage years in West Grove, Chester County, before going off to learn his trade.

After two rainy days here, there is a decent chance of more showers today, which means it isn't clear what kind of track the Derby will be run on. Like so many other things about Hard Spun, his ability to handle an off track is open to conjecture. He won the Port Penn by five lengths over a sloppy track at Delaware Park in his second race on Nov. 14, and Jones said right after the race that it told him that his colt could handle a sloppy track, even if "it didn't appear to me that the slop was what he loves the best."

After Pletcher's 3-year-old filly Rags to Riches won yesterday's Kentucky Oaks by 41/4 lengths, the trainer said that obviously the race wasn't run in the best conditions, over a muddy, sealed track, but it seemed very fair all day.

"We didn't see the bias we saw at the Breeders' Cup," Pletcher said. "Horses were winning from everywhere."

It was Street Sense that benefited from a golden rail here on Breeders' Cup day to win in record fashion. Today, he is favored to show that day was far from a fluke.


Kentucky Derby Analysis

When: 6:04 p.m. Today. Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Ky. TV: NBC10. Distance: 11/4 miles. Total purse: $2.21 million. Winner's share: $1.45 million. Weather forecast: Mostly cloudy, temperatures in the 70s with a 50 percent chance of showers.

Betting available: Philadelphia Park, 3001 Street Rd., Bensalem; Harrah's at Chester: 777 Harrah's Blvd., Chester. Plus OTBs at 1635 Market St.; 700 Packer Ave.; 2327 Cottman Ave.; 150 S. 69th St.; 600 Cresson Blvd.; 1021 Baltimore Pike, plus 1332 S. Delsea Dr., Vineland, N.J..

Updated Odds: As of 8 last night.

No. Horse             Jockey             Trainer             Odds

1. Sedgefield          Julien Leparoux    Darrin Miller       46-1

2. Curlin                Robby Albarado    Steve Asmussen    6-1

3. Zanjero             S.Bridgmohan      Steve Asmussen    34-1

4. Storm in May          Juan Leyva          William Kaplan    20-1

5. Imawildandcrazyguy    Mark Guidry       William Kaplan    18-1

6. Cowtown Cat         Fernando Jara       Todd Pletcher       18-1

7. Street Sense          Calvin Borel       Carl Nafzger      9-2

8. Hard Spun          Mario Pino          Larry Jones       10-1

9. Liquidity             David Flores       Doug O'Neill      46-1

10. Teuflesberg          Stewart Elliott      Jamie Sanders    44-1

11. Bwana Bull          Javier Castellano    J. Hollendorfer      35-1

12. Nobiz Like Shobiz    C. Velasquez      Barclay Tagg       12-1

13. Sam P.             R. Dominguez       Todd Pletcher       48-1

14. Scat Daddy          Edgar Prado       Todd Pletcher       6-1

15. Tiago               Mike Smith          John Shirreffs       10-1

16. Circular Quay       John Velazquez    Todd Pletcher       14-1

17. Stormello         K. Desormeaux    William Currin       48-1

18. Any Given Saturday Garrett Gomez    Todd Pletcher       21-1

19. Dominican          Rafael Bejarano    Darrin Miller       17-1

20. Great Hunter      Corey Nakatani    Doug O'Neill       26-1

Heading into the first turn

Teuflesberg holds a brief lead followed closely by Cowtown Cat and Stormello. Hard Spun races next with Nobiz Like Shobiz, Curlin and Scat Daddy in pursuit. Street Sense, Circular Quay and Tiago are all well behind.

Heading into the far turn

Hard Spun bids to the front as the trio of pacesetters begins to tire. Curlin launches his run inside and Great Hunter and Street Sense begin to close the gap.

Circular Quay is eight lengths back but starts to pick up rivals.

Heading into the stretch

Hard Spun leads narrowly over Curlin as Great Hunter begins to flatten out from a wide trip. Street Sense is closing well but not fast enough.

At the finish

Curlin draws clear to score by two lengths with Hard Spun just holding off Street Sense for second. Great Hunter finishes an even fourth, and a mildly rallying Circular Quay gets fifth.

1. Curlin: Few young prospects have come close to showing the ability of this colt in three smashing victories. Talent edge and beneficial inside rally overcome inexperience.

2. Hard Spun: He won five of six starts in decisive style, with the lone defeat blamed on the surface at Oaklawn Park. Son of top sire Danzig continues to make progress.

3. Street Sense: He was awesome over the Churchill surface in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, so he obviously loves the track. He was prepared brilliantly for top effort by trainer Carl Nafzger, who saddled Unbridled to 1990 Derby victory.

4. Great Hunter: He was bothered severely in the stretch of the Blue Grass after a powerful victory after layoff in California. The horse also suffered a troubled trip behind Street Sense in the Juvenile, but faces a major obstacle in extreme outside post position.

$20 to win on$5 exacta boxwithand$2 trifecta boxwithand

Stormello (No. 17) is a Grade I winner and benefits greatly from having 35 days off. He ran gamely in both Florida starts after enduring grueling 12-hour plane rides from his home base in Southern California. Cowtown Cat (6) overcame three distinctive racetracks, winning a sprint at Gulfstream and then two Grade II stakes in New York (Gotham) and Chicago (Illinois Derby). Any Given Saturday (18) missed by a nose to Street Sense (7) in Tampa Bay and was a wide third last out in the Wood Memorial. At 2, he was second at Churchill Downs in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

The odds point to Stormello (30-1 morning line) as the major win play. I'll also play multiple Grade I winner Scat Daddy (14) to win, while making exacta and trifecta gimmicks keying my top two horses with Nobiz Like Shobiz (12), Cowtown Cat (6), Any Given Saturday (18) and Great Hunter (20).


Find more Derby coverage at http://go.philly.com/derby.

Listen to a Derby podcast at http://go.philly.com/derbycast.

See a slide show from Churchill Downs at http://go.philly.com/photos.


Contact staff writer Mike Jensen

at 215-854-4489 or mjensen@phillynews.com.

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