Street Sense after winning the 2007 Kentucky Derby. (Photo courtesy of Horsephotos.com)
In almost any other crop, Street Sense would have been the best horse of his generation throughout his entire career. Instead, he had to settle for being a 2-year-old champion and Kentucky Derby winner, a pretty nice consolation.
Street Sense was clearly the best 2-year-old of his crop when he won the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by an easy 10 lengths under Calvin Borel at Churchill Downs. But the next year, his crop would develop into one of the best of the decade.
Street Sense came back in March 2007 after a winter break to prepare for the Kentucky Derby, putting in two prep races before the first Saturday in May. He proved he was just as good as his Juvenile win suggested when he set a new track record in the Tampa Bay Derby but suffered defeat by a nose in the Blue Grass Stakes.
In arguably the most competitive Kentucky Derby in years, Street Sense was returning back to the track of his biggest win. Street Sense went off as the 4.90-to-1 favorite in a field that included 12 graded stakes winners. While it wasn’t as visibly impressive as his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile win, he raced to a 2 ¼-length victory over Hard Spun and Curlin.
“Let’s just be honest, the horse has taken us everywhere,” trainer Carl Nafzger, who also trained 1990 Derby winner Unbridled, said after the race. “Man has he taken us on a trip.
"I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it. This is the toughest race in the world to win.”
Street Sense was the first horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby and he looked to become the first horse in three years to leave Pimlico with a chance at the Triple Crown. But a roadblock in the form of a chestnut colt stopped him when he dueled down the stretch with Curlin, falling a head short of a chance at the Triple Crown.
Street Sense was the second consecutive Kentucky Derby winner to skip the Belmont Stakes, a race won by the filly Rags to Riches with Curlin finishing second. He returned to the track two months later in the Jim Dandy, a prep race for the Travers Stakes, and easily won the race by 1 ½ lengths.
He made another piece of history in the Travers when he won the race by a half-length over Grasshopper. Street Sense was the first Kentucky Derby winner to win the race since Thunder Gulch in 1995 and it added to his resume as arguably the best 3-year-olds of his crop.
STREET SENSE WINNING TRAVERS
Photo courtesy of Horsephotos
However, the Travers would be his last win as he met up with a familiar foe in the Kentucky Cup Classic when Hard Spun beat him by 1 ½ lengths. Curlin got the upper hand on the Derby winner in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic on a sloppy track at Monmouth Park and in victory cemented credentials as Horse of the Year. Street Sense had only faced a sloppy track once before and finished third in that attempt. This time, the son of Street Cry finished fourth, with both Curlin and Hard Spun getting their revenge in the second biggest race of the year.
Street Sense retired to Darley at the end of the year and he stood for $75,000 in 2008. Street Sense had been named the champion 2-year-old in 2006 and was a finalist for championship honors as a 3-year-old but lost out to Curlin.
Street Sense was well received in 2008, both in the United States and in Australia, where he shuttled for the Southern Hemisphere season, breeding 202 mares. His first crop was successful with 39-percent winners and seven graded stakes winners including Grade 1 winner Aubby K and graded stakes winner Castaway.
In 2012, Street Sense was bred to 114 mares and had 45-percent winners. including five stakes winners, but it was announced in the fall that Street Sense would be moving to Darley’s Japan operation for the 2013 season.
STREET SENSE AT DARLEY IN 2010
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
The move proved to be just what the Japanese breeders wanted when he booked full for his first season.
“Street Sense is a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Derby winner, and the Japanese hold those races in very high regard. So as a winner of them, he has been very popular with breeders,” said Kenichiro Mishima, president of Darley Japan. “He will cover a full book of about 130 mares this year. As a stallion … his progeny that have been imported from overseas are doing very well in the JRA, so he is naturally very popular in Japan.”
Street Sense has had even more success in the first five months of racing in the United States with four of his 98 racehorses winning stakes races, and multiple Grade 2 winner Unlimited Budget finishing third in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks.
It hasn’t been decided if Street Sense will return to the U.S. in 2014, but he will be returning to another home base this summer when he shuttles to Australia for the fifth year in a row. Even though the stallion has traveled the world in the past year, he takes it all in stride.
“Street Sense is a very gentle stallion and is easy to take care of,” said Mishima. “He arrived in a new environment but as he is very calm he has adapted well.”
Street Sense’s popularity in Japan hasn’t only come from the breeders, but from racing fans in the country as well. Even though the Kentucky Derby is an American race, it is highly regarded in Street Sense’s new country as well.
“Street Sense is very famous in Japan because he is a Kentucky Derby winner. Hopefully, we will be able to show him to his fans after the covering season,” said Mishima.
Street Sense comes from a crop that each Derby field since has been compared with. If his early success as a sire is any indication, Street Sense will also become a sire that other Derby winners of this century are compared with as well.