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Preakness preview: Last in a series

Each day leading to tomorrow's Preakness Stakes, we've been profiling some of the horses who will bolt from the starting gate in the 132nd running of the second jewel in the Triple Crown.  Today, we look at Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense and one of his toughest rivals, Curlin, who finished third at Churchill Downs.

Street Sense -- Street Sense arrives at the Preakness with plenty of doubters who argue that he was lucky at the Kentucky Derby, and that includes the camp of Hard Spun, who finished second two weeks ago. Street Sense held the rail and was able to come from 19th place unimpeded.  But there's no question this is a quality colt.  In eight career starts, he has never finished out of the money. As a 3-year-old, he has won twice and placed once. Neither track type nor quality of the field seems to bother him, and he just keeps improving. He is ridden by Calvin Borel, a Churchill Downs veteran who gave him that great ride. But this is Borel's first time at Pimlico.

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Curlin -- Curlin was undefeated heading into the Derby, but he had run in just three races. Then again, all of his races have been as a 3-year-old. More to the point, Curlin had never been in the position he found himself in at the Derby, meaning in a tough spot caught up in traffic. His camp hopes that his Derby experience will serve Curlin well in the Preakness, where he will contend with just eight other horses as opposed to 19 others in the Derby. Considering that Street Sense and Derby runner-up Hard Spun will attract the lion's share of the betting money, some think Curlin is the smart bet. Robby Albarado is in the irons.

The Final Word -- No, that's not a surprise Preakness entry.  And before I proceed, I advise no one to take my advice. I have Sun colleagues who are much more knowledgeable than myself concerning the dark mysteries of a racing form. But for what it's worth, it's clear that Hard Spun would have won the Kentucky Derby if not for everything falling into place perfectly for Street Sense.  And I believe that these equine athletes have an appreciation of the moment, an awareness of their own ability and a sense of pride. Having said that, I think Hard Spun has something to prove and he'll do it tomorrow at Old Hilltop.

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Enjoy the race and may all your tickets be ones you can cash.

And ... O, by the Way, we'll be blogging from Pimlico tomorrow.  So, if you're home, at the coffee shop or have to work, join us here.

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