- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 17, 2007

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BALTIMORE — The top three finishers in the Kentucky Derby are the top three favorites in the Preakness Stakes.

During the post position draw yesterday afternoon, Derby winner Street Sense was installed as the 7-5 favorite and will start from the No. 8 gate in the nine-horse field.

Hard Spun (5-2, No. 7 post) and Curlin (7-2, No. 4 post), the second- and third-place finishers in the Derby, are the second and third betting choices.

From the rail out, the field is: Mint Slewlep (30-1), Xchanger (7-5), Circular Quay (8-1), Curlin, King of the Roxy (12-1), Flying First Class (20-1), Hard Spun, Street Sense and C P West (20-1).

Post time for the 1 3/16-mile Preakness is shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.

Street Sense arrived at Stall 40 of the Stakes Barn around 4 p.m. after training in Louisville, Ky.

“We’re very happy with it,” trainer Carl Nafzger said of the post position. “We can sit there and read everybody and decide whether the pace is going or not. If the pace is going, we’ll get going.”

Hard Spun has started from outside posts — Nos. 8, 10 and 9 — in his last three races.

“Before they drew, I kept envisioning us in the No. 6 or No. 7 spot and I couldn’t get that out of my mind,” jockey Mario Pino said. “It’s perfect for us. I didn’t want to be down on the inside and having to make early choices with a free-running horse like Hard Spun.”

Curlin and Circular Quay are the other two horses who ran in the Derby and are entered in the Preakness. Circular Quay, eighth in the Derby, was a late addition after trainer Todd Pletcher saw enough from a weekend workout.

Pletcher’s other horse, King of the Roxy, will be running for the first time since finishing second in the Santa Anita Derby on April 7.

“In a nine-horse field, there isn’t a huge advantage in post positions,” Pletcher said. “I like that Circular Quay is on the inside so he can save some ground.”

Of the newcomers to the Triple Crown series, Xchanger and Flying First Class are expected to be the early leaders. Hard Spun could also be part of the early fight.

“We’ll carve out some fractions early,” Flying First Class trainer D. Wayne Lukas said, “and hope to be around for the final eighth of a mile.”

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