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Cheer on favorites Saturday

If your Kentucky Derby pick is any horse other than Street Sense or Curlin, root for these two favorites to win big Saturday.

Both colts are heavily favored, Street Sense in the Blue Grass and Curlin in the Arkansas Derby. A convincing win by each would make them the first and second choices, respectively, in the Derby morning line in three weeks.

That will push the odds way up on other horses, including yours. Last year, only five Derby starters had single-digit odds, and that was with a lukewarm 5-1 favorite in Sweetnorthernsaint. With a sharp win, Street Sense could have Derby odds of 3-1 or lower.

The Derby lends itself to most horses going off at high odds because there are up to 20 betting interests. Also, there is no field or entries to dilute the pool.

The prospect of getting 15-1 odds or more on good horses makes the Derby the ultimate bet-a-little, win-a-lot race.

It’ll be interesting to watch jockey Calvin Borel on Street Sense and their race tactics. In their past two races, wins in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Tampa Bay Derby, Borel kept Street Sense glued to the inner rail. You’d think the others riders will be looking for him this time.

Meanwhile, Curlin has won both of his career starts. If he wins the Arkansas Derby, he’ll be going to Churchill Downs undefeated in three races. He reminds me of Air Forbes Won, the 1982 Derby favorite who ran seventh.

Air Forbes Won was an unraced maiden 60 days before his Derby. Four straight wins, including the Wood Memorial, put him on the fast track. If Curlin wins the Kentucky Derby under a similar, lightly raced and compressed schedule, I won’t be cashing any of my Derby bets.

• ORLEANS APPEARANCE — Jockey David Flores and trainer John Sadler will be appearing at The Orleans race book at 9 a.m. Monday. Admission is free. There will be a free $1,000 handicapping contest on races from Tampa Bay Downs.

Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday. He can be reached at rich_eng@hotmail.com.

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