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Street Sense odds-on Travers Stakes favorite
Trainer Nafzger confident Derby winner will prevail
By Richard Rosenblatt | Associated Press

The New York Racing Association's Lisa Florillo displays the names of the horses during Wednesday's post position draw for Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

 

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Published: 8/23/2007 12:13 AM

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Street Sense will be the horse to beat again at Saratoga Race Course -- this time the Kentucky Derby winner was made the overwhelming 3-5 favorite for Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes.

Last month, Street Sense won the Jim Dandy here as the odds-on choice in his first start since his Triple Crown chances ended with a narrow loss in the Preakness on May 19.

Trainer Carl Nafzger expects his 3-year-old colt to improve by "three to five lengths" in the 1¼-mile Travers, also known as the "Mid-Summer Derby."

"Like any horse coming back, he'll get fitter, he'll get more timing," Nafzger said before a field of seven was entered Wednesday. "He's more focused."

C P West and Sightseeing, the second- and third-place finishers in the Jim Dandy, will try Street Sense again. C P West is the second choice at 5-1 and Sightseeing is 6-1.

The rest of the field includes late-developing 3-year-olds Helsinki, Looseleaf, Grasshopper and For You Reppo. Hall of Famer Nick Zito, who won the 2004 Travers with Birdstone, trains C P West and Helsinki

"I've got a fighting chance," Zito said. "Obviously, it's not going to be easy, but we'll take a shot."

Street Sense, who will be ridden by Calvin Borel, drew the No. 4 post position. The son of Street Cry will attempt to become the 10th horse to win the Derby and the Travers -- the most recent was Thunder Gulch in 1995.

Nafzger and owner James Tafel are looking for their second Travers win, with Unshaded taking the Grade 1 race in 2000.

Although the goal for Street Sense remains the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at New Jersey's Monmouth Park on Oct. 27, Nafzger expects nothing less than a victory in the Travers.

"I really want to win this race," he said. "How committed am I to win this race? I'm not sleeping good at night."

Street Sense, the 2-year-old champion and Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner, comes into the Travers with five victories, three seconds and two thirds in 10 career starts for earnings of $3,458,200.

"He's always done everything good," Nafzger said. "He's always been a natural. He's always had a great mind."

C P West, with Cornelio Velasquez aboard, leaves from the No. 2 post, while trainer Shug McGaughey's Sightseeing, with Edgar Prado riding, drew the outside No. 7 post.

Sightseeing won the Peter Pan Stakes in May and was a fast-closing third in the Jim Dandy.

"I don't think it's as easy as making up 2 1/2 lengths on Street Sense," three-time Travers winner McGaughey said. "I'd expect Street Sense to improve off the Jim Dandy, too."

For Street Sense, there will be no rematch with Preakness winner Curlin, who finished third in the Haskell in his last start. Curlin is set to run next in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on Sept. 30.

Looseleaf, trained by Ken McPeek, is coming off a win in the Lemon Drop Kid Stakes on Aug. 5, while Helsinki ran fourth. Grasshopper, trained by Neil Howard, won an allowance race by six lengths on July 30.

The field from the rail out: Helsinki (Julien Leparoux, 20-1); C P West (Velasquez, 5-1); For You Reppo (Garrett Gomez, 20-1); Street Sense (Borel, 3-5); Grasshopper (Robby Albarado, 8-1); Looseleaf (Kent Desormeaux, 12-1); and Sightseeing (Prado, 6-1).