LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Ecstatic that his instincts about Golden Soul nearly paid off in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Dallas Stewart didn't ponder the what-ifs.
He's instead thinking about golden opportunities ahead for the colt that finished second to Orb after starting the Derby as a 35-1 long shot.
Stewart indicated Sunday that Golden Soul's next Triple Crown start would be the Belmont Stakes rather than the Preakness in Baltimore on May 18. Whatever he and owner Charles Fipke decide, both were pleased with the horse's performance Saturday on a sloppy Churchill Downs surface.
Off the pace for a mile, jockey Robby Albarado rallied Golden Soul down the stretch to finish 2 1/2 lengths behind Orb and a length ahead of Revolutionary. That earned $400,000 for Fipke and the connections, as well as vindication for a horse that started with just 14 Derby points.
"I always thought he would run well here," Stewart, 53, said Sunday. "He's been training well the last couple of weeks, I thought he would step up here and he did."
Stewart, who worked 11 years for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, drew praise as well for Golden Soul's effort. He downplayed it but added, "I've always been in it to win it."
Stewart certainly has some notable wins to brag about.
He earned a Breeders' Cup win in the 2001 Distaff with Unbridled Elaine and won the 2006 Kentucky Oaks with Lemons Forever. Though Stewart remains winless in three Derby trips, he took satisfaction in Golden Soul providing his best finish.
"I haven't had the right horse before," he said. "I had a good one on Saturday."
As for Golden Soul, Stewart said he looked good Sunday morning and cooled down well as the trainer prepared to take him back to Louisiana. Though the Preakness remained under consideration, odds were against it since the horse has never raced less than three weeks apart.
Indications point toward getting Golden Soul rested and ready for the Belmont on June 8 and seeking the outcome that fell just short in the Derby.
"We want some longevity out of this horse and don't want to run him in two weeks, especially coming out of a mud race here," Stewart said.
Sloppy conditions didn't faze Golden Soul, who fell to 15th after starting from the No. 4 post. Like Orb, the race favorite who rallied from off the pace, he saved his best for last and came up just short at the end.
"I thought I had a great chance turning for home," said Albarado, who rode Golden Soul for the first time. "I saw Orb up there. I'm just thankful for the opportunity. It was stop and go. I was comfortable with the pace.
"I got a great inside trip. I got him out. He came running."
In a way, Golden Soul's run here wasn't surprising. He debuted here in November with a second-place run beneath Calvin Borel, who finished a length back in third aboard Revolutionary in the Derby.
Golden Soul broke his maiden in his next start at Fair Grounds Race Course near New Orleans, following with a second. Borel returned to the mount for the Louisiana Derby, finishing fourth in a race won by Revolutionary. That earned 10 more points toward the Derby and 14 overall - far less than favorites such as Orb and Revolutionary but enough to get in after several horses scratched last week.
Finishing between the race favorites was even more satisfying for Stewart.
"I thought after the Louisiana Derby that if we could into the (Kentucky) Derby, that would be the ultimate," Stewart said. "It was just one of those things that worked out great."
Orb ultimately grabbed the glory to finally give Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, 62, his first Derby victory. But as McGaughey prepares Orb for the next jewel in thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, he expects Golden Soul to challenge because of the work Stewart has put in.
"I'm sure (Stewart) is tickled to death with how his horse ran," McGaughey said. "I wouldn't expect anything different from him; he's that kind of guy.
"He took a long shot in here and was second with what I think was a very, very good horse. He's going to have a lot of good horses as he goes along."