- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 3, 2007

Trainers are like football coaches — the later in the week, the more stressed they become.

Take the Redskins’ Joe Gibbs. On Wednesday, Coach Joe tells stories, doesn’t flinch when second-guessed and gives a briefing that can last nearly 30 minutes.

On Friday? He’s wound tighter than a double knot.

Some of the Kentucky Derby trainers are getting to be the same way. But there are a few exceptions who have made this week a gold mine of stories.

One example is Carl Nafzger, a one-time Derby winner who will saddle Street Sense on Saturday. When Sir Scribble encountered Nafzger this week, he was holding court in front of his barn.

“This is fun,” he said. “You work all your life to get here.”

Nafzger was a pro bull rider before getting his trainer’s license in 1968. He has been married for 39 years, and the nomadic life of a trainer shuttled the couple from apartment to apartment for 20 years. This will be his third Derby; he won with Unbridled in 1990.

“Is this pressure? No,” he said. “Pressure is when you can’t make your payroll or you need to pay $5,000 in bills and have $1,000 in your pocket. If you can’t enjoy this, don’t come here.”

Asked whether Street Sense is the best horse, Nafzger said, “That’s like asking a guy if he likes his wife. Yes, I like my horse.”

Ryan O’Halloran

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