HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Hall of Fame trainer Carl Nafzger is scheduled to send out Jim Tafel LLC’s Sensible Jim for his career debut Saturday at Gulfstream Park, marking the 79-year-old Eclipse Award winner’s first starter since October 2019.
While Nafzger is for all intents and purposes retired, he will maintain his long-time association with the late Jim Tafel and his family in Race 7, a seven-furlong maiden special weight race for 3-year-olds in which Sensible Jim will break from the No. 12 post position under Corey Lanerie.
“We’ll see what he can do. I’m looking forward to the race, but like with all of my horses, I like to take it slow for their first race,” said Nafzger, a 2008 inductee into the National Museum Racing’s Hall of Fame.
Nafzger trained Tafel’s homebred Street Sense for a victory in the 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1), as well as a triumph in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) that clinched the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old. He also trained Banshee Breeze, the 1998 Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old filly, on a long list of stakes winners for the Tafel-Nafzger connection.
Nafzger has trained four generations on Sensible Jim’s maternal side, including Banshee Winds, the dam of Banshee Breeze whom Tafel purchased from Mill Ridge Farm, with whom he enjoyed a close association. Following Tafel’s passing in 2014, his wife, Ida Mae, and family sold all but one of their Thoroughbreds – Makin’ Sense, a daughter of Street Sense whose third dam was Banshee Winds.
“They disbursed everything. They asked me how much she would bring, and I said, ‘She should just keep her and breed her.’ That’s what she did. It gives her one mare,” Nafzger said. “We talk all the time. This gives her a connection to Mill Ridge Farm. She’s enjoyed it. She has only one mare. She’s not in the horse business, but it’s a connection that is still sort of alive.”
“We think she can be a good broodmare. She’s been throwing good babies,” he added. “She kept Mrs. Tafel in the game and she’s having fun.”
Sensible Jim, a gelded son of Hard Spun, has had a solid series of 10 workouts at Palm Meadows since December in preparation for his debut.
Nafzger, a former rodeo bull rider who is also in the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, also won the Kentucky Derby in 1990 with Frances Genter’s Unbridled, the 1990 Florida Derby (G1) winner who also captured the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) that year.
Irad Ortiz Jr. Notches 7th Straight Multi-Win Day
Irad Ortiz Jr. closed in on the record for most wins by a jockey during a Championship Meet while notching his seventh straight multi-win day Friday at Gulfstream Park.
The defending two-time Championship Meet titlist rode three winners to up his win total to 131, just six winners behind the record of 137 set by Luis Saez in 2017-2018. Ortiz scored aboard aboard Lime ($2.20) in Race 1, Malibu Max ($3.20) in Race 5 and Septemberten ($13) in Race 8.
Ortiz has ridden 23 winners over the last seven programs while rapidly closing in on the record he missed equaling last season by just two winners.
Saturday’s Rainbow 6 Jackpot Pool Guaranteed at $450,000
The 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot pool will be guaranteed at $450,000 Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
The popular multi-race wager went unsolved Friday for the third racing day since Sunday’s mandatory payout. Multiple tickets with five of six winners were each worth $16,064.30 Friday.
There will also be a Super Hi-5 carryover into the first race of $3,235.62.
The jackpot pool is only paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.
The Rainbow 6 sequence will span Races 7-12, kicking off by a maiden special weight event for 3-year-olds, including Hall of Fame trainer Carl Nafzger’s first starter since October 2019, Sensible Jim.
The $75,000 Silks Run, a five-furlong turf stakes carded as Race 11, will headline the Rainbow 6 sequence. Brian Lynch-trained Carotari, who was narrowly defeated in the Sam Houston Turf Sprint last time out, captured the Silks Run last year with a front-running performance.
WHO’S HOT: Luis Saez, a two-time Championship Meet champion who was narrowly edge by Ortiz the past two seasons, rode a pair of winners Friday, including Simply the Best ($2.20), who dead-heated with Lime in Race 1, and Blakenstein ($5.80) in Race 3.
Tyler Gaffalione also doubled, scoring with Nicholas Ross ($8.60) in Race 2 and Spend Benjamins ($31.20) in Race 9.
Gulfstream Park Press Release
Photo: Carl Nafzger, (Coglianese Photos)