Carl Nafzger and his wife, Wanda, have been a lot of places, the trainer said Saturday night during his address at the Texas Thoroughbred Association’s annual awards banquet. But they have been all those places because of one thing—the horse.
"We’ve had a lot of great horses and a lot of great relationships," Nafzger said. "but we owe it all to the horse. The horse has taken us all these places."
Nafzger, a Texas native, said he has always liked the illustration of the monkey and the tree to describe how he won the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) twice, with Unbridled in 1990 and Street Sense in 2007.
"If you lead the horse under a tree and you throw a monkey on his back, the horse is not going under that tree again," Nafzger said. "Horses learn ever day. I don't train horses, the horse train me."
Nafzger said he and his wife have always told their stable help that, "you cannot fail, you can only learn. Adversity is a key to success."
Looking at those in attendance, Nafzger then said, "with all the adversity we’ve had in our industry, we should be very successful."
Clarence Scharbauer Jr., owner of Valor Farm, was honored with the T.I. "Pops" Harkins Award for lifetime achievement. The award was accepted by Valor farm manager Ken Carson.
"I don’t know anyone who loves horses as much as Mr. Scharbauer," Carson said.
The surprise of the night was the recipient of the Allen Bogan Memorial Award, presented to someone who has brought distinction and recognition to the industry in Texas. The award went to Mary Ruyle, who has worked for the Texas Thoroughbred Association for 20 years.