Nafzger Disappointed, but Undaunted in Defeat

AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) - Carl Nafzger stood alone outside the stakes
barn at Pimlico Race Course, oblivious to the raindrops falling on
his gray hair and maroon suit jacket.
The trainer of Street Sense had every right to be disappointed,
maybe even bitter. His horse had taken the lead down the stretch in
Saturday's Preakness Stakes before being overtaken at the wire by
By the length of a horse's head, Nafzger's bid to win the Triple
Crown was over.
At first he called the defeat "heartbreaking," lamenting, "We
had Curlin. We should have never let him come back and get us."
About 30 minutes later, he had calmed down.
"My horse ran great. I got outran. That's horse racing,"
Nafzger said. "If you can't enjoy watching a $5,000 claimer give
you 110 percent, you shouldn't be in the horse business."
Then he paused for an instant and added, "Maybe he gave me 105.
But Curlin (gave) 110. You have to enjoy watching Curlin run."
The Derby crowd certainly enjoyed watching Street Sense run,
especially his roaring move from next-to-last in a 20-horse field
to win by 2 1/4 lengths.
And, for a time, it looked as if he'd have this race wrapped up,
too, with jockey Calvin Borel moving him from eighth to first at
the top of the stretch.
But Curlin summoned up one last surge and won the race on the
final stride.
"I thought it was all over. When you open up a lead and have
two lengths of daylight, you're supposed to win the horse race,"
Nafzger said. "Other horses wouldn't have never tried that last
kick like Curlin did."
Borel said he thought it was over "when I got by Hard Spun
turning for home. He just got to gawking 40 yards from home and got
Perhaps therein lies Street Sense's lone flaw: the failure to
realize that a race isn't over until the winner crosses the finish
line. After the colt passed the field and saw nothing but empty
space ahead, he apparently let up.
"When my horse gets to the lead, he's just sort of happy. He
won't quit running, but he's not intense," Nafzger said. "And
Curlin ran an unbelievable perfect race today."
Especially over the final 100 yards.
"It was almost a match race at the end. One champion and
another potential champion," one of Curlin's owners, Jess Jackson,
said. "Street Sense deserves a lot of credit."
Maybe so, but that won't get him a Triple Crown.
"You always want to go to the ultimate, but at the same time
there are a lot of things more important in life than the Triple
Crown," Nafzger said. "I'm just happy to have a horse like this.
Look, I've got a horse that broke the Breeders' Cup juvenile jinx,
won the Kentucky Derby and never been beaten by more than a nose in
his last five outs."
Asked about going to the Belmont Stakes in three weeks, Nafzger
said, "What's the point?"
But he can't wait for Street Sense and Curlin to meet again.
Street Sense has finished in the money in every one of his nine
career races, and Curlin has won four of five.
"The only guy to beat Curlin is me," Nafzger said. "Curlin's
going to get better as he gets experience. It's going to be
interesting to see what happens down the road. I think we've got a
great challenge going.
"Curlin ran a heck of a race today," Nafzger said, "but I'll
beat him next time."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)