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 in Hallandale Beach, Fla., 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 longtime 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 dispersed 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.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2021 Paulick Report.