LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer Carl Nafzger was chatting up well-wishers at his barn, with Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense tucked safely away after his morning workout.
The winner's garland of red roses was stashed out of sight, making Sunday feel like any other morning at Churchill Downs. Except Nafzger was busy quieting Triple Crown talk about 14 hours after Street Sense's 2Â¼-length victory.
And the 65-year-old trainer wasn't much for discussing the Preakness that looms in two weeks, either.
"That's not even on the radar now," he said. "Ask me next Monday. Make an appointment."
Street Sense will be in Baltimore on May 19 for the second leg of the Triple Crown. Six times in the past 10 years the Derby winner has gone on to win the Preakness, setting up a Triple try.
Although initially resistant, Nafzger briefly let his mind wander to a possible sweep of the Derby, Preakness and Belmont.
"As soon as we win the Preakness, we'll go to the Belmont," he said, smiling.
Street Sense will remain 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, the second-place Derby finisher, will challenge Street Sense in the 13/16-mile Preakness. Other possible holdovers from the Derby are third-place Curlin, fifth-place Sedgefield and Teuflesberg, who finished 17th.
With Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip looking Saturday, Street Sense picked his way through traffic and roared from 19th place in the 20-horse Derby field to win with powerful acceleration.
"I knew if the horse kicked, he'd get there," Nafzger said. "He was long back in the Breeders' Cup, too."
Street Sense won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile six months ago at Churchill, coming from 13th place to win by 10 lengths.
"I've seen him six and 12 lengths off the pace," Nafzger said. "Whatever sets up, that's what I've seen him do."
Street Sense became the first Juvenile winner to come back in the spring and win the roses, ending an 0-for-23 jinx. He also was the first 2-year-old champion to win the Derby since Spectacular Bid in 1979 and the first colt to win with two or fewer prep races since Sunny's Halo in 1983.
"Maybe two preps is what's needed," Nafzger said.
Outside his barn, trainer Larry Jones held Hard Spun as the colt had his feet washed off. Then they walked a few laps around the barn before Hard Spun went into his stall.
"I'm just so happy I didn't screw it all up," Jones said jokingly.
Hard Spun led all the way until Street Sense had taken care of most of the field in the final quarter-mile. Hard Spun came into the Derby on a six-week layoff - one more week than Barbaro had been idled before winning last year.
"We were told we couldn't do it," Jones said, pointing out that Curlin was criticized for having just three career starts and none as a 2-year-old.
"We all got to the races the best way we could," Jones said. "Everyone marched to the beat of their own drum."
Hard Spun will return to his Delaware Park home today and await the Preakness. Mario Pino, Maryland's winningest jockey, will be aboard as they take on Street Sense again.
"This is Calvin Borel's track and he's hard to beat here," Jones said, referring to the Derby-winning jockey. "But we are going to Pino country and hopefully the Preakness will be a different story."
A majority of the 20 Derby horses will skip the Preakness, including trainer Todd Pletcher's record-tying five starters: Any Given Saturday, Circular Quay, Cowtown Cat, Sam. P and Scat Daddy.
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.
comments powered by Disqus