Drew Nardiello hopes seven is his lucky number for this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1). Not post 7 but because the year ends in seven. A colt raised on his Chesapeake Farm near Lexington named Street Sense wore the rose blanket in 2007 and became the first Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner to also take the Derby. This year Nardiello's farm is represented by WinStar Farm and Don Alberto's Battle of Midway . Nardiello talked with BloodHorse MarketWatch editor Eric Mitchell about raising the colt for breeder Pavla Nygaard, who owns Thor-Bred Stables.
BloodHorse MarketWatch: What do you remember about Battle of Midway as a foal? Did he share any traits you saw in Street Sense?
Drew Nardiello: (Battle of Midway) was a neat horse. When Street Sense came along, he was extremely athletic and very special. At the time I was a bit naïve and got quoted in Sports Illustrated as saying he was the nicest horse I'd seen in 10 years and Carl (Nafzger, who trained Street Sense) gave me some grief about it. Battle of Midway was a good colt and always had the attributes of other horses that had gone on and done well—athletic, attractive, and well balanced. He had a proclivity to get into a trouble and was a bit ornery. He was also one of the first foals, so he was always the leader of the pack—the boss.
BH: What is Battle of Midway's dam Rigoletta like?
DN: We've had her since she came off the racetrack. She is a good-sized mare, who is little crooked in front, but she ran through it (Rigoletta is a grade 1 winner). She is an alpha mare—she rules the roost.
BH: Several breeders of Derby contenders this year have described the dams as alpha mares. Do you see these types of mares regularly producing competitive offspring?
DN: I would say dominant mares tend to pass that trait along to their foals. Case in point, Appealing Storm is the dam of Vacare, Abtaal, and Single Solution—all graded stakes winners. I have a couple of her daughters here and they're all tough mares. The whole family is tough. When I worked for Alec Head raising his yearlings in the (1980s), you saw the same trait among his mares and their offspring. If I ever commented about a weanling being tough, he'd say: 'You think she's tough, you should have seen her grandmother.'
BH: How do you like Battle of Midway's chances Saturday?
DN: This horse is intelligent and likes his job. He may be a little short on seasoning, but the First Saturday in May only comes around once a year. If the track remains sloppy, he may like it. He sure liked it when he broke his maiden.