Horse and rider remained patient as Hard Spun set a contested pace through rapid splits of :22.90, :46.26 and 1:11.13. They stuck close to the rail up the backstretch, moving out only once to pass long-shot Storm in May before resuming their rail-hugging journey.
Street Sense began to move in earnest on the far turn, slicing through the pack as tiring horses almost magically opened up a path for him along the inside. He moved out one path to go around Sedgefield as he straightened for home and set out after a stubborn Hard Spun, who had sprinted clear of his other pursuers.
He wore down the front runner with just over 1/8 mile left to run, then dove back over to his preferred spot on the rail after getting clear. A jubilant Borel began celebrating several strides before the wire, waving his right arm and pumping his fist.
“I looked under my arm and I seen I was about two or three lengths in front (of Hard Spun) . . . and there was no way he was going to beat me,” he said. “It’s the greatest moment of your life to pass under the wire in the Kentucky Derby in front.”
Nafzger, who is semi-retired from training and now works with just a handful of horses owned by three longtime clients, including Tafel, relied on the wisdom acquired during 37 years of training in going against the historic grain in training Street Sense for the Derby.
As for giving the horse just two prep races before the grueling Derby, he said his instinct told him that the horse had acquired the foundation needed for the challenge through his five races at 2 and would benefit from a little extra time to mature.
“To me there wasn’t anything to it,” he said. “It was a matter of getting him fit and getting his timing.”
Asked whether he feared the much-discussed “Breeders’ Cup jinx” — a streak that saw no winner of the 23 runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile come back to capture the Kentucky Derby — he responded with a question.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Tiago was seventh, followed by Any Given Saturday, Sam P. and Nobiz Like Shobiz. Dominican was 11th, then came Zanjero, Great Hunter, Liquidity and Bwana Bull. Storm in May, who is blind in his right eye, was 16th, trailed by Teuflesberg, Scat Daddy, Stormello and Cowtown Cat in last.
Garrett Gomez said he got knocked around a bit aboard Any Given Saturday.
“Then Street Sense came blowing through there and it was like a big old wave,” Gomez said. “He knocked my horse out from under me and knocked him off his feet again. But that’s the Kentucky Derby.”
The Godolphin doping scandal deepened Monday, with British racing authorities announcing that seven more horses have tested positive for steroids, including the winner of the world's oldest classic.
Racing after seven years of retirement, Gary Stevens rode Oxbow to a win in the Preakness, justifying his return