Trainer Carl Nafzger was relaxed at the Preakness barn Thursday morning. And, why shouldn’t he be?
His Street Sense is bedded down in the first stall of the barn, reserved for the winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
“If he can really run, I can really train,” Nafzger quipped. “The key is so simple, get a good horse and don’t mess him up.”
The 65-year-old trainer is right, but of course the hard part is getting the good horse.
“We only have eight horses to beat, which is better than 19 in the Derby and better than 30,000 when they were foals,” Nafzger said.
But a smaller field doesn’t always mean an easier field to defeat, Nafzger was quick to point out.
“With a smaller field, you might not get the pace you want. There are many things that can happen in any race, regardless of field size.”
Nafzger remains confident in Street Sense, Jim Tafel's homebred son of Street Cry, who gave the trainer his second Derby win. He captured the Run for the Roses in 1990 with Unbridled.
“I’ve been saying all along that this horse has taken us everywhere we’ve been. It was true and it continues to be true. It’s like when you watch a great running back. You don’t change his style, you just help him adjust. This horse can adjust.”
You get close to races and really, there is little left to do, Nafzger admitted.
“I’m finished. Now he has to go out and do it.”
The racing world will be watching May 19 to see if Street Sense can do it, win the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico, and have a chance to become a Triple Crown winner.