Whoa! There was trouble all right, and coming right at him: Curlin
and Robby Albarado.
Dirt flew, whips flailed, and just when it
looked as if the Kentucky Derby winner would hang on, Curlin poked
his head in front at the wire to win Saturday's Preakness with a
"Heartbreaking, that's what it was," said trainer Carl Nafzger
after his Kentucky Derby winner was beaten. "We only needed a nose.
Curlin ran a hell of a race, but we had Curlin. We should never have
let him come back and get us."
He did. And by doing so, the big chestnut colt thwarted any
chance for a Triple Crown this year.
Albarado never doubted Curlin would catch Street Sense, even
though he had run only four times before.
"He's a big enough and strong enough horse that I thought I could
do that with him," Albarado said after winning his first Triple
No one was more surprised than Borel.
"I thought I was home free," he said. "He came and got me. No
If anybody had one, it was Albarado. Two races earlier, he was
thrown from his mount but walked away unhurt.
Though a horse had to be euthanized in that race, it was the only
sad note on a day that crackled with excitement -- in stark contrast
to the horror of Barbaro's breakdown last year.
The winning time was a blazing 1:53.46, which equaled the stakes
record of 1:53 2/5, Pimlico officials said. Louis Quatorze in 1996
and Tank's Prospect in 1985 won in 1:53 2/5.
And it all started with a stumble.
Curlin, who finished third in the Derby, was well back in the
field of nine after a slight bobble out of the gate. As Hard Spun
swung into the lead with a three-wide move, Street Sense started to
roll under Borel.
Street Sense went to the outside in the stretch and moved into
the lead, and the record crowd of 121,263 began cheering in
anticipation of a Triple Crown bid in the making.
But Curlin came flying along the far outside and took dead aim at
the Derby winner. He caught him on the final jump and, just like
that, Street Sense was a beaten horse.
"I thought I had a different horse the first quarter-mile,"
Albarado said. "He started a 2-year-old and finished a 5-year-old."
Borel, who was so masterful in guiding Street Sense past 19
rivals and a Derby victory by 2 1/4 lengths, thought he had a
Preakness win when he broke clear of the field.
[to top of second column]
Nafzger won the 1990 Derby with Unbridled, who then finished
second in the Preakness. Street Sense repeated the pattern.
"When you open up a lead and have two lengths of daylight, you're
supposed to win the horse race," Nafzger said. "Other horses
wouldn't have never tried that last kick like Curlin did."
Curlin, the 3-1 second choice, returned $8.80, $3.80 and $2.80.
Street Sense, the 6-5 favorite, returned $3 and $2.40. Hard Spun was
third and paid $3.
The same three horses were the top three in the Derby -- Street
Sense, Hard Spun and Curlin, who was nearly eight lengths behind the
C P West was fourth, followed by Circular Quay, King of the Roxy,
Mint Slewlep, Xchanger and Flying First Class.
Todd Pletcher, who trains Circular Quay and King of the Roxy, is
now 0-for-28 in Triple Crown races.
Two races before the Preakness, in the Dixie Stakes, Albarado was
thrown from his mount, Einstein, when another horse broke down and
had to be euthanized on the track.
The tragedy harkened back to last year's Preakness, when Derby
winner Barbaro broke down seconds after the start and, after months
of treatment, was finally euthanized in January.
His memory lives on with the Barbaro Stakes, and the winner
provided a bittersweet reunion for Barbaro's co-owners and trainer
in the winner's circle.
Chelokee, the overwhelming favorite, won easily. The colt is
trained by Michael Matz, who trained Barbaro. Matz accepted the
victory trophy from Gretchen and Roy Jackson, the fallen horse's
Curlin, who did not race as a 2-year-old, was purchased after his
first race -- a 12 3/4-length romp at Gulfstream Park in February.
The price was a reported $3.5 million by a group that includes
Kendall-Jackson Wine owner Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables, Padua
Stables, George Bolton and Midnight Cry Stables.
The colt hit a $650,000 jackpot by winning the 1 3-16th-mile
second jewel of the Triple Crown, boosting his career earnings to
Though lightly raced, trainer Steve Asmussen was confident the
son of Smart Strike would improve after his first defeat.
Did he ever.
from file received from AP
Digital; article by
Richard Rosenblatt, AP racing writer]