Thursday Morning Line at Pimlico

Autograph please ...

Shortly after Street Sense was washed down, trainer Carl Nafzger conducted a brief autograph session with representatives of the Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

Nafzger signed an oversized photograph of Street Sense’s victory in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) that the PHBPA donates to a charity auction conducted by the Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) Senators minor league baseball team. The auction benefits United Cerebral Palsy.

Todd Mostoller, a horse owner who is also executive director of the Penn horsemen’s group, was thrilled when Nafzger lent more than just his signature to the print. He directed that the bidding open with his bid of $1,000.

Mostoller said this is the third year that the group has obtained a Derby winning print for the auction. (Jockey Calvin Borel is expected to sign it upon arrival in Baltimore Friday morning). The tradition began with Smarty Jones in 2005, as Mostoller used his “connections within the horse industry” to get the first photo by the Pennsylvania connections of the Derby winner. That was followed in 2006 by another Pennsylvania connected Derby-winning horse, Barbaro.

Although Nafzger and owner Jim Tafel have no direct connections to the Pennsylvania racing industry, Mostoller was able to get the job done this year through the assistance of Kentucky HBPA president Rick Hiles and executive director Marty Maline.

The Pennsylvania HBPA and the charity hope Street Sense’s print does as well as the other two, with Smarty selling for $2,800 and Barbaro going for $1,800.—Ron Mitchell

The four traits of a winner

Nafzger said Preakness Stakes (gr. I) favorite Street Sense has the four traits of a winner: a great mind, ability, soundness, and a good immune system. And the ingredient that brings it all together is class.

Nafzger recalled when Street Sense, then a weanling, was at Chesapeake Farm in Central Kentucky. “(Breeder) Drew Nardiello said at the time, ‘There’s only one thing wrong with this baby--he’s perfect,’ ” Nafzger said.

Since that time, Nafzger said Street Sense “has taken us every step of the way,” and there’s really not much he can do at this point.

“The last 11 days have been pretty simple,” he said in reference to the colt’s post-Derby training. “You either do it or you don’t do it. All of us trainers are just adjusting to our horses.”

As for a start in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Nafzger said: “The horse will say (if we go). I hope he learns something from this race first. You’ve got to beat these eight horses first.”--Tom LaMarra

Nafzger/Jones joke

Trainers Carl Nafzger and Larry Jones, whose horses Street Sense and Hard Spun, respectively, ran one-two in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I), were joking with each other in the shedrow Thursday morning. With them were their wives, Wanda Nafzger and Cindy Jones.

“I never thought I would be in this position because I always had such admiration for Wayne Lukas and for you,” Jones said. “Now here I am between the two of you.”

“You can stay in the middle as long as I stay on top,” Nafzger quipped.

“You know if I say something at the Alibi Breakfast I’m just kidding,” Jones said.

“You won’t need any alibis,” Nafzger said.—Dan Liebman

Injun Chuck

It is officially a Triple Crown race with the arrival of noted backside journalist Indian Charlie. And, as usual, it didn’t take him long to get things stirred up.

“Hey,” he yelled to Larry Jones, who trains Derby runner-up Hard Spun, “how much you got tied up in that straw hat?”

“About 50 or 60 bucks,” Jones said while holding Hard Spun for a hosing down.

“Well this guy has about 800 bucks tied up in his,” Indian Charlie said within earshot of trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

“No, mine is worth about 50 bucks too,” Lukas, who will saddle Flying First Class in the Preakness, said laughing.

Jones and Lukas are both known for wearing cowboy hats.—Dan Liebman

Super distraction

Larry Jones said he knows one way to keep a trainer from concentrating too much on a Preakness starter—have a horse disappear.

It happened to Jones Wednesday at Delaware Park, where his stable is based for the summer.

Jones night watchman had made his rounds about 3 a.m. and all was well in the stable. Fifteen minutes later, a horse was missing. It was the filly Super Vision, who was scheduled to run in the first race Wednesday at Delaware.

Apparently, a van driver went to the wrong barn and transported Jones’ filly to a local farm when he should have been delivering a horse trained by Bob Klesaris.

“When the horse got to the farm, they knew immediately because they were supposed to get a gelding and they got a filly,” Jones said.

Super Vision arrived back at the track about 9:20 but had missed the time for a Lasix shot and so had to be scratched.

“You can tell everyone it is a great way to keep me from concentrating too much on the Preakness,” Jones said jokingly.—Dan Liebman

Blanket coverage

For those who have already forgotten that Street Sense became the first horse to win the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), the son of Street Cry was advertising such on Thursday.

As he walked the shedrow, Street Sense was wearing a blanket adorned with “Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile” for all to see.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association ran an ad last week in USA today that said, “You broke the jinx, now go make history.”

Much had been written over the years about the “jinx” but trainer Carl Nafzger proved he was right following the Breeders’ Cup when he said, “You just have to be right on the first Saturday in November and first Saturday in May.”—Dan Liebman

Honored guests

Dr. Dean Richardson, the University of Pennsylvania veterinarian who treated Barbaro after the colt’s injury in the 2006 Preakness, said he’s a fan of Maryland horse racing and wants to see it get stronger. And some of Richardson’s biggest fans are from the Maryland racing community, which honored him at the annual Alibi Breakfast in the Pimlico clubhouse.

Richardson received the Special Award of Merit along with jockey Edgar Prado, who rode Barbaro. It was one of several awards presented at the breakfast ceremony.

Richardson, who does much of his work behind the scenes, said he was honored. He reluctantly took to the podium for a few words.

“Who speaks at breakfast?” Richardson said to laughter. “For that matter, what horseman eats breakfast at 10 o’clock in the morning?”

Richardson indicated he didn’t want to dredge up the details of Barbaro’s treatment, but he said he believes there were positive developments in an otherwise sad story.

“I still think a lot of good came out of the story,” he said. “I hope people believe that.”

Soon after Richardson received his award, the Breyer Horse Co. donated $126,000 to the laminitis fund at the University of Pennsylvania. That brings Breyer’s total contribution to $241,000 for Barbaro-related projects.

Also during the Alibi Breakfast, the following individuals were honored:

David F. Woods Memorial Award: Sean Clancy, Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred magazine, for a story on Barbaro.

Old Hilltop Award: Jerry Izenberg of the Newark Star-Ledger and Don Clippinger of Thoroughbred Times.

Jerry Frutkoff Preakness Photography Award Sponsored by Nikon: Jim McCue of the Maryland Jockey Club.

Broadcast journalist Charlsie Cantey is the honorary postmaster for the Preakness.--By Tom LaMarra