As a two year old the race that was solely responsible for crowing him the leading Derby contender in 2007 was the 06 Breeders Cup Juvenile. Before that I had only seen one of his starts, where he ran into the dominating juvenile, Circular Quay and the winner of the race Great Hunter. At the time I was watching the intriguing closer Circular Quay who was at the time unbeaten, and sitting atop the Juvenile empire. It was in the Breeders Futurity Stakes, and this day both would lose. Great Hunter would be the winner spoiling Circular Quay's prep for the Juvenile. A good five lengths back would come Street Sense.
When I look at Street Sense I see tall and leggy, which give the impression of one that is not a very precocious horse, and takes a bit to find himself. Before the Futurity, Street Sense was still a fairly successful Juvenile, winning his maiden first asking, then running third in the Arlington Washington Futurity. So, in examining his record I see a horse that was good, still growing, and once he found out how to use those limbs of his, he would become a monster on the track.
Of course in 2006 I was still learning about racing, starting to understand and get the hang of things, but rarely did I look past anything that was put right in front of me. So, by the time Breeders Cup came around I like many overlooked Street Sense and went for the talented Circular Quay. This mistake quickly came back to bite many in the butt, for Street Sense not only won the Juvenile, he ran away with the race, as rail opened up like the red seas parting for Moses, Street Sense flew up, covering ground like a run away train. Even after he hit the front he never stopped, extending his lead to a jaw dropping, record breaking 10 lengths.
Later he was crown Eclipse Award Juvenile Champion, stamping himself as the leading two year old for next year's Kentucky Derby. Many again would discount Street Sense yet again, because along the road to the Run for the Roses, Street Sense would try to defy the history books in multiple ways. The first was that no horse in the 23 running of the Breeders Cup Juvenile had ever come back the next year to win the Derby. The second would be that he would only run in two preps before the Derby, when the norm was to have at least three. Another thing that made people overlook the talented horse were his close win in the Tampa Bay Derby and his nose loss in the Bluegrass to the little known Dominican.
Again nobody to the time to look deeper into the subject. Tampa Bay's track is often noticed for it's quirkiness and unpredictable nature. It could have very well been that Street Sense did not enjoy the surface, when another quality colt, Any Given Saturday, did. Also in the Bluegrass Stakes, Street Sense would run over a synthetic surface and it is well know that he was not even close to his best when racing over them. Everyone also seemed to forget that he would be returning to the sight of his most impressive victory, the Juvenile, when racing in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. He would also be coming into the race in peak form and fresh. When you look back at the race, many would go, how in the lords name did I overlook him?
As you can imagine Street Sense went on to win the 2007 Kentucky Derby, stealing it away from the talented front runner Hard Spun, in a performance that was almost a carbon copy of his Breeders Cup Juvenile win. Jockey Calvin Borel, or Bo-rail, as he has come to be know, to Street Sense up the rail for a second time, allowing Street Sense to go from 19th to first, finishing in front by 2 1/2 lengths by the time he crossed under the wire. This win would etch this stars name into the record books as the first Breeders Cup Juvenile Champion to ever win a Kentucky Derby and the first horse since Spectacular Bid in 1979 to win after being crowned Champion Juvenile.
Street Sense would never be able to reclaim the glory of that moment, his last win coming in the Travers Stakes, in a soul stirring stretch battle against the new comer Grasshopper. Before that he would lose the Preakness to the eventual Breeders Cup Classic victor and Horse of the Year, Curlin. He would run in the Kentucky Cup Classic after the Travers only to finish second to have the tables turned on him by Derby runner-up Hard Spun. The final race of his career would be his worst finish to date, as he made a bold move with Curlin on the final turn of the Breeders Cup Classic, but failed to sustain that run, eventually finishing fourth.
Overshadowed by two titans by the name of Hard Spun and Curlin, Street Sense's accomplishments were swallowed by the larger. The star of the year was Curlin, who had been the one to end Street Sense's aspirations of a Triple Crown by the bob of his head in the Preakness. His losses in his last final two races were all people would remember of him, and that is not right. I know this sport is all about the "what have you done for me lately" quote, but that does not mean that accomplishments that should have won him Horse of the Year or Champion Three Year Old, should be forgotten. Yes, he was stopped before he could show the world what he could become if allowed to race just one more year, but that does not erase accomplishments such as breaking the once unbreakable Juvenile Jinx. Street Sense may not be great but he sure came darn close. He should not be discounted, because he missed out on greatness by bob of a head.