Even though Strodes Creek had finished second in the 120th Kentucky Derby, there was a smugness at trainer Charlie Whittingham's barn after the race.
Whittingham, 81, hadn't won his third Derby, but he had come very close with a colt that was the most inexperienced horse in the field. Go For Gin beat Strodes Creek by two lengths.
"He's a tough horse, and he's just learning," Whittingham said.
Strodes Creek had run in only one stake before Saturday, finishing third behind Brocco and Tabasco Cat in the Santa Anita Derby. He outran both of those rivals in the Kentucky Derby.
Asked if he would run Strodes Creek in the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness at Pimlico on May 21, Whittingham said: "The best race for this horse would be the Belmont. But we'll consider the Preakness. It all depends on how he recovers in the two weeks between now and the Preakness."
The Belmont Stakes, the finale to the Triple Crown, is the longest race in the series at 1 1/2 miles. It will be run on June 11.
Whittingham is more certain about running Numerous in the Preakness, at 1 3/16ths miles. That colt won the Derby Trial here a week ago.
"There's different owners, so if they both belong in the Preakness, I could run them both," Whittingham said.
Eddie Delahoussaye, who rode Strodes Creek on Saturday, was part of the crush that hindered several horses on the first turn.
"This is a big, gangly colt," Delahoussaye said. "So he didn't kick back in right away after I had to stop with him. If I didn't have to stop with him, maybe he would have been closer. But when he learns to run, he's going to be something."
At Jimmy Croll's barn, Holy Bull's trainer bemoaned his colt's racing luck.
"I wish it had been a good, clean race, but it didn't turn out that way," Croll said. "My horse didn't have a chance. Ron McAnally's horse (Valiant Nature) didn't have a chance.
"The first stride out of the gate, my horse's hind end was out. He got hit by the other horses on both sides."
Holy Bull suffered a small cut on his right hind leg.
"It's nothing serious," Croll said. "It's just superficial."
Croll indicated that Holy Bull will run in the Preakness, which will probably draw a large field because of all the hard-luck cases in the Derby.
Trainer Randy Winick said that he would also like to run Brocco in the Preakness, but will first discuss the possibility with his owners, Albert and Dana Broccoli.
"Right out of the gate, I knew we were in trouble," Winick said. "We wanted to be on the outside and in fourth or fifth place early. Instead, we were in 11th or 12th place and on the inside."
Of Valiant Nature's trip, jockey Laffit Pincay said: "The inside horse (Powis Castle) came out. That horse was running straight and all of a sudden he came out. My horse seemed to come out of the race OK."
Added Delahoussaye: "Laffit nearly went down."
The Derby was Go For Gin's sixth start on an off track. He broke his maiden in the slop at Aqueduct in October, won his first stake in the slop two weeks later and had three seconds on the other off tracks.