During a morning news conference at Churchill Downs yesterday, trainer Carl Nafzger said Street Sense's owner and breeder, Jim Tafel, had decided to skip the Belmont. Instead, the horse will be pointed toward a late-summer and fall campaign that could make the son of Street Cry the only horse in history to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the Kentucky Derby, the Travers and the Breeders' Cup Classic.
"I gave Mr. Tafel all of my reasons for going [to the Belmont], and all my reasons for not going," Nafzger said. "The Triple Crown is out. Curlin took us out. We're not going to the Belmont. We have set goals for this horse - we want the Travers [Aug. 25 at Saratoga] and then we want the Breeders' Cup Classic [Oct. 27 at Monmouth Park].
"Mr. Tafel said, 'These are worthy goals; let's go after it.' "
The decision means much of the glamour surrounding the Belmont will be lost. Thanks to Curlin's head-bob victory in the Preakness, no Triple Crown will be on the line in New York this year.
With the absence of Street Sense from the race, there will be no rematch between the two winners and no possibility for the top three finishers in the Derby and Preakness - Street Sense, Curlin and Hard Spun - to become the first threesome to pull off the top three feat in all three classic races.
From the morning after the Preakness, Curlin's trainer, Steve Asmussen, has campaigned for the top three Derby and Preakness finishers to advance to the Belmont.
"My position might be: 'Be careful what I wish for,' " he said when asked if he was disappointed by the news of Street Sense's defection. "I was thinking he was going to show up and I'm only finding out now that he's not. I was fully prepared to run against him, as well as Hard Spun. With him being as good a horse as he is, I think I'd rather have met him at Belmont Park than anywhere else. But if Carl felt he belonged there he would have showed up. So I have to respect his decision."
Hard Spun's trainer, Larry Jones, had a more humorous response during a national conference call.
"I thought it was very kind of Carl to take it easy on us," Jones said before adding, "Carl mentioned earlier that there was no longer an incentive to run in all three races [once the Triple Crown prospect was lost]."