LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Street Sense got a big leg up on the Triple Crown path with a win in the Kentucky Derby.
Hard Spun, some new rivals and a few holdovers would love to toss a giant roadblock in Street Sense's run at racing immortality with a victory in the Preakness in two weeks.
"I'm sure going to try and keep that from happening," Hard Spun trainer Larry Jones said on Sunday. "If he wins the Triple Crown, I'm going to try and make him earn it."
It's been 29 years since Affirmed swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont. Four other horses in the past six years have won the first two legs only to lose the 1½-mile Belmont, most recently Smarty Jones in 2004.
Not that 65-year-old trainer Street Sense Carl Nafzger is thinking that far ahead quite yet. Perhaps hiding the winner's garland of red roses on Sunday was one of Nafzger's ways to hush all the immediate Triple Crown talk. Want to talk Preakness with him? Wait 'til next week.
"Make an appointment," he said.
Street Sense will be in Baltimore on May 19 for the second leg of the Triple Crown. Six times in the last 10 years the Derby winner has gone on to win the Preakness, setting up a Triple try.
While not nearly as dominating as Barbaro's 6½-length romp a year ago, Street Sense was every bit as spectacular. Street Sense roared back from next-to-last in his electrifying dash, picking off the other 19 rivals and winning the Derby by 2¼ lengths.
"Any time you win the Kentucky Derby, damn he's great," Nafzger said.
Derby second-place finisher Hard Spun, who looked like a winner before jockey Calvin Borel guided Street Sense past him in the final furlong, will be back for another shot.
"He's awesome," Jones said of Street Sense. "But he's more awesome at Churchill then anywhere I've seen him."
Maybe, but Street Sense hasn't exactly been a slouch on other tracks: the dark bay colt has finished in the money in all eight of his career races.
"He don't throw clunkers, but he mistakes like he did in the Bluegrass," Nafzger said.
Street Sense was overthrown at the wire by Dominican at the Blue Grass Stakes for one of the few blips in his racing career. Otherwise, Borel guided Street Sense to a record 10-length win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and another victory this spring in the Tampa Bay Derby.
Then on Saturday, Borel did everything he needed to do for a win.
Borel moved Street Sense to the outside about a quarter of a mile from the finish and that's when they really got going. The caught race-leader Hard Spun in the final eighth of a mile and gave owner Jim Tafel and his family the Derby they waited nearly a quarter century to win.
"You've got to remember, Cal Borel has a great clock in his head," Nafzger said. "Don't worry about Calvin."
Street Sense will stay at Churchill Downs and train on his home track leading to the Preakness. Nafzger plans to bring the colt to Pimlico three days before the race.
Nafzger has previously saddled two Preakness starters, including second-place Unbridled in 1990. That colt gave Nafzger his first Derby victory.
Hard Spun, who will return to his Delaware Park home Monday, will challenge Street Sense in the 1 3-16-mile Preakness. Other possible holdovers from the Derby are third-place Curlin, fifth-place Sedgefield and Teuflesberg, who finished 17th.
"My horse didn't give it up," Jones said. "He just got outrun. With the trip Calvin ran, he's going to go out and outrun everybody like that."
A majority of the 20 Derby horses will skip the Preakness, including trainer Todd Pletcher's record-tying five starters. But Pletcher will have a presence in Baltimore with King of the Roxy, second in the Santa Anita Derby.
The Preakness field is limited to 14 starters, and other likely new challengers will be: Xchanger, whose owner made a late decision to skip the Derby; Lexington Stakes winner Slew's Tizzy; Chelokee, trained by Michael Matz; C P West; and either Derby Trial winner Flying First Class or Starbase, both trained by D. Wayne Lukas.
A year ago, Bernardini skipped the Derby and won the Preakness, a victory overshadowed by the breakdown of Barbaro.